The Russian government will allocate extra funding to reinforce the emergency group combating forest fires in Siberia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting in Krasnoyarsk on Wednesday.
Medvedev pointed out that the meeting was called to help different agencies join efforts to fight wildfires. “As for reinforcement of the Emergencies Ministry group with capabilities of the Defense Ministry, funding will be required for the purpose, and I will definitely issue an order to allocate funds from the government reserve fund so that this work can be more vigorous,” Medvedev said.
The prime minister asked to harmonize promptly “capabilities and efforts” of the Emergencies Ministry with the Defense Ministry, which had set up an emergency response center to help extinguish forest fires.
“I ask to start interacting with them [the military] immediately,” Medvedev told First Deputy Emergencies Minister Alexander Chupriyan.
Medvedev focused on safety of settlements located near the fire-stricken areas. “Yes, as it was said [at the meeting], there are no imminent threats and if they were, those threats have been lifted. Nonetheless, maximum control should be maintained by municipal authorities, forest users, regional authorities and, of course, by the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergencies,” Medvedev said.
According to the Federal Aerial Forest Protection Service, nearly 2.8 million hectares of forest are burning in the hard-to-reach areas as of July 31. Wildfires covered the largest area in Yakutia where the fires are raging on 1.1 million hectares of taiga as well as on more than one million hectares in the Krasnoyarsk region and about 700,000 hectares in the Irkutsk region. At least 2,700 personnel, 390 vehicles and 28 aircraft are involved in firefighting efforts to extinguish forest fires in Siberia.
A state of emergency over wildfires was declared in four Russian regions: in the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions and in one district of Buryatia and in one district of Yakutia. On Wednesday, following an instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, ten planes and ten helicopters of the Russian Defense Ministry joined the firefighting efforts.