Greenpeace Russia calls for more resources to fight Siberian wildfires

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A still from an Aug. 8, 2019 video shot by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service in the Krasnoyarsk region in Russia’s Far East. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military personnel last week to join the fight against forest fires burning territory about the size of Belgium. Environmental group Greenpeace Russia says this still isn’t enough. (Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service/AP)
Greenpeace Russia is calling for more resources to fight Siberian wildfires, saying the smoke is having consequences  everywhere from big cities to small settlements.

“The Russian branch of Greenpeace requires the authorities to send additional forces to fight fire, revise control zones so as not to repeat the disaster, and also tell the truth about the smoke and help people survive it,” the environmental organization said in statement on Thursday. 

A petition started by the organization demanding more resources be put into controlling and extinguishing the fires now has over 386,000 signatures.

Fires are a natural part of the boreal forest life cycle but the exceptionally hot and dry weather in Siberia since June has boosted the intensity and duration of the blazes.

Tweet from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, an EU programme based on satellite Earth Observation data:

Weeks of uncertainty

In an update on Thursday, Russia’s aerial forest protection service said there were now 2,424,396 hectares of wildfire area where firefighting efforts have been stopped saying there were no threats to either people or infrastructure.

“The projected costs of extinguishing them exceed the projected damage that they may cause,” they said in a a statement.

A fire in Krasnoyarsk Region in eastern Russia. Maxim Yakovenko, head of Russia’s meteorological service, said this month he sees global climate change as a factor behind the wildfires blazing throughout Siberia and the country’s Far East. (Ministry of Emergency Situations of Krasnoyarsk Region/AP)

Elsewhere, firefighting efforts continue on 179,179 hectares of wildfire areas in Russia, including in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Krasnoyarsk Territory, involving some 3,864 people, authorities say. 

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: 2019 Arctic wildfire season ‘unprecedented’ say experts, Eye on the Actic

Finland: Arctic Council experts tackle black carbon risk posed by wildfires, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Better wildfire & agriculture management among recommendations from Arctic Council black carbon expert group, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic summer 2019: record heat, dramatic ice loss and raging wildfires, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Nearly 3,000 people, 50 aircraft mobilized to fight wildfires in Russia, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Study on Swedish wildfires shows how to make forests rise from the ashes, Radio Sweden

United States: Wildfire smoke brings more respiratory complaints in Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska Public Media

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project.

Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the violent death of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on violence and trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Twitter: @Arctic_EQ

Email: eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

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