On August 12, 2021, a boy walks in the smoke of a wildfire that covers Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutsk in the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia. (Ivan Nikiforov / AP Photo)
Moscow-Russian authorities expanded the state of emergency in northeastern Siberia on Friday, bringing in external resources to combat wildfires involving vast areas.
Russian Emergency Minister Yevgeny Zinichev has declared a state of emergency in Sakha Yakut. This move should help organize the transfer of firefighting resources from other regions to fight the flames in Yakut, Russia’s largest territory and wider than Argentina.
The vast territory, also known as the Republic of Sakha, faced a particularly devastating wildfire spell this year, following months of hot and dry weather characterized by record temperatures.
On Friday, authorities reported 117 active forest fires burning over approximately 1.4 million hectares (3.4 million acres) in Yakut. This includes 308.4 million hectares (762 million acres).
Smoke from the burning forest covered a large area, forcing the airport in Yakutsk’s provincial capital to shut down on Thursday. On Friday, flights resumed to what is often referred to as the coldest city on the planet.
The number of fires is increasing due to the combination of hot weather and neglect of fire safety regulations.
Experts have accused the fire of exacerbating the 2007 decision to disband the federal aviation network, which was tasked with discovering and fighting the fire and handing over its assets to local authorities. Forests covering vast areas of Russia made it difficult to discover new fires, and the highly criticized transfer led to the rapid decline of the military.