Massive forest fires are currently raging in the Russian region of Siberia. About 270,000 hectares are on fire – an area the size of the Canton of Ticino. Fires are so powerful that plumes of smoke can even be seen in space. Flames have already engulfed several cities and at least 16 people have been killed so far.
Although forest fires are not uncommon in Siberia, rising temperatures and the lack of rainfall make them more frequent and devastating. And: As reported by “Spiegel”, this year firefighters may also go missing because of the war in Ukraine.
“Just let it burn”
In the case of forest fires in Russia, the special unit of the fire service Avialessoochrana is usually used. In the event of particularly severe fires, the unit can also be supported by the military – e.g. by helicopters, airplanes and personnel.
But this time it seems that the emergency services have to do without the military. Because, according to the American scientist Jessica McMarty from the University of Miami in the US state of Ohio, no aid will be sent this year because of the war. “You just let the fires continue to burn,” she said in an interview with CBC radio in early May. If the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, this problem may worsen in the future.
Lots of withdrawn troops
Forest fire scientist and expert Amber Soya, who works for the US space agency Nasa, told the Axios website that firefighting measures were limited in Ukraine even before the war. Now they would shrink even more. Because many troops of the army were transferred from the region to Ukraine.
However, not all experts see the link between the unrelenting fire and the war in Ukraine. According to Kirsten Thonicke of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, the development of heat and smoke could also be the reason why helicopters and firefighting planes did not show up. Depending on the situation, they may not start for safety reasons. (bra)