Civilian volunteers are joining the struggle to protect towns and villages against vast wildfires in Siberia
Huge forest fires are raging in Siberia in Russia, where over a million hectares of forest have already burned down. Now civilians are joining in to help protect villages and towns.
One of these volunteers is Konstantin Krivoshapkin, principle of the Arctic State Agrotechnological University in Yakutsk. He and 32 students at the university joined as volunteer over the course of a week to help put out fires that threatened a village.
"We bought equipment, such as masks and shovels, and approached the fires to make sure the fire did not reach the village. We succeeded, but sometimes there were catastrophic situations. And many of us were injured by smoke inhalation", he said to Swedish SVT.se.
Yakutsk is the capital of the Sasha-Yakutia region and is located in the area of Siberia that is worst affected by forest fires right now. The dry, warm climate in the region has contributed to the fires quickly spreading.
"The region is as big as India. Imagine India burning, that's about it. People will not be able to put out these fires, it would take huge downpours for that", says Konstantin Krivoshapkin.
Three degrees increase
According to the mayor of Yakutsk , this has been the driest and warmest summer in 150 years. The region has declared a state of emergency and banned residents from visiting the forest due to the risk of man made fires.
The fires have been raging for weeks in Yakutsk. 47 other inhabited areas in the region, have often been shrouded in thick smoke. Authorities recommend for people to stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
"We will have to get used to this. The fires get bigger every year. And the main reason is global warming. The temperature here in northeastern Russia has risen by three degrees in recent years. It is a disaster", says Konstantin Krivoshapkin.