Forest fires blaze in eastern Russia, forcing evacuations

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MOSCOW (AP) — Wildfires are blazing on about 58,000 hectares (145,000 acres) throughout the eastern reaches of Russia, threatening small villages and forcing the evacuation of children and senior citizens from at least one village.

Avialesookhrana, the Russian government agency for aerial protection of forests, said Thursday that the hardest-hit area was the Irkutsk region, where about 16,900 hectares (41,700 acres) of forests were burning. Some of the fires were coming close to the village of Bolshoe Goloustnoe along Lake Baikal, from which 28 people were evacuated. No casualties have been reported.

Forest fires are a major annual problem for Russia as the world’s weather warms. Last year, Russian officials recorded some 10,000 fires encompassing 3.2 million hectares (7.9 million acres).

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