By Anna Liesowska
16 April 2015
(The Siberian Times) – Fire is still raging in part of Siberia as the death toll from this week’s two massive outbreaks rises to 33. In Khakassia, people are slowly beginning to piece together their lives after the devastating wildfire that killed at least 29 people is finally extinguished.
But for those living near the city of Chita, in Trans-Baikal, the worry continues as a separate blaze continues to burn in some areas. Four people have already died and 22 were injured in that region, and more than 830 people have lost their homes.
On Wednesday Emergency Ministry officials had claimed fires in the settlements were out and that it had affected 49,000 hectares. However, on Thursday it emerged the blaze had actually doubled in size and is now encroaching 107,000 hectares.
Local residents near Chita have described the events of the past few days like 'an apocalypse' with smoke covering much of the area. Volunteers and firefighters are continuing to battle the elements on the outskirts of villages in a bid to save both people and houses. […]
In Ivan-Ozero, one resident told of their battle to save themselves from the inferno, and said: 'We put buckets of water along the fence and when we saw the smoke, we jumped out and grabbed them, but it was in vain – there was a wall of fire. […]
According to preliminary data the blaze destroyed 1,300 homes, leaving 6,000 people homeless, and also claimed the lives of 5,000 sheep and cattle. And as the grim task of rebuilding communities starts, some 800 people are still in hospitals across the region having required medical treatment.
Officials said the death toll has risen to 29 with three people still unaccounted for. The settlement of Shira was worst affected, with more than 420 homes burned down. [...]
Olesya Kuzminykh, who lives in the village of Kopyevo, said the wind was so strong that they could not cope with the on-rushing fire. She said: 'The fire began on the one side of the village and the entire village rushed there. Luckily the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. Only one house burned down.' [...]
The area has been hit by looting as thieves targeted abandoned homes. According to the local police: “When the fire began to subside under the guise of kinship and friendship ties with the victims, looters collected in karts and trailers charred pipes, bicycles, radiators and other valuable things in order to pass them to the metal collection points and get money.” [more]