Two Villages In Siberia Evacuated As Forest Fires Approach

A bus moves along a street as thick smoke from Yakutia wildfires hangs over the northern city of Norilsk on August 6.  

Two villages threatened by forest fires in northeastern Siberia’s Yakutia region are being evacuated, local authorities said on August 8 as more than 150 fires burned in the region.

Local authorities moved residents of two villages, Kalvitsa and Kharyyalakh, to other inhabited areas as crews worked to contain about half of the blazes burning in the area, AP reported.

The villages are among about a dozen in the region that are threatened by the fires, according to the regional operations task force dealing with the emergency.

One of the fires destroyed 31 houses and eight maintenance buildings in the village of Byas-Kuel on August 7, Yakutia Governor Aysen Nikolayev said on Facebook.

"This is a huge loss," Nikolayev said on the social media platform on August 8. "People lost everything they built and accumulated for years — homes, property, their household."

Nikolayev said they would be provided with construction materials to rebuild their houses before the heating season begins and said each member of the affected families will be paid 30 thousand rubles.

An operational headquarters has been created and will be led by Dmitry Viktorovich Berdnikov, who will leave on August 9 for Byas-Kuel to begin the necessary work, Nikolayev said.

Nikolayev also ordered officials to clear forests around the endangered villages.

There are 155 fires in the region, the operations task force said. Eleven were extinguished on August 8, nine were contained, and seven new forest fires were discovered.

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