Three people from the town of Gremyachinsk are seated in chairs, watching a huge smoke plume from fires burning around Lake Baikal, on 23 August 2015. Photo: Chono Erdenebayar / The Siberian Times

23 August 2015 (The Siberian Times) – These unnerving images show the scale of destruction from wildfires close to Lake Baikal, the jewel of Siberia. The sky is aglow over the Republic of Buryatia from the uncontrolled burning, the latest outbreaks of fires that have been destroying forests around the world's oldest and deepest lake for a number of weeks.

Locals and tourists could only gaze from beaches beside the lake at the impressive but disturbing images from the flames and smoke.

The shocking scenes came amid a warning from a senior politician that wildfires now pose the greatest threat to the lake, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which contains 20% of the unfrozen freshwater on the planet.

Satellite view of fires around Lake Baikal, Russia, 21 August 2015. Photo: NASA

Mikhail Slipenchuk, deputy head of the Russian parliament's committee on natural resources and ecology, said: 'Fires near the lake's shores actually kill the water arteries, thus damaging the water balance in the lake'.

Some 36 fires are burning over an area of 77,000 hectares, after a hot summer with a lack of rainfall, it was reported. […]

'It feels like doomsday', said one eyewitness. [more]

Baikal on fire - 'it feels like doomsday'

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