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Siberia’s Irkutsk Declares Emergency as Fires Ravage Region

Fire in the village of Vikhorevka in the Bratsk District. Mayor of Bratsk District Alexander Dubrovin / Telegram

Authorities in Russia’s Irkutsk region declared a state of emergency on Monday after a fast-spreading fire fueled by strong winds and dry weather ripped through villages, destroying homes and injuring at least one person.

A woman was hospitalized and in critical condition after she suffered burn wounds in the Bratsk district, Irkutsk region Governor Igor Kobzev said on Telegram. The Bratsk district lies 4,700 kilometers east of Moscow and has a population of around 49,000 people.

Kobzev announced a district-wide state of emergency, with residents being evacuated to the municipal center of Vikhorevka. 

“There was a man-made fire in four dacha cooperatives simultaneously,” the governor said. “The Bratsk district prosecutor’s office is also working in the fire zone to establish what caused the fires.”

Regional emergency services said one of the fires, which broke out at a sawmill in the city of Bratsk, was “man-made.”

Irkutsk is among the nine regions where wildfires have been raging over the past 24 hours, according to federal authorities, which say that region-wide states of emergency have been declared in the neighboring Jewish autonomous district and the Khabarovsk region.

Russia’s wildfire season officially began in early March, with the state Hydrometeorological Center forecasting prolonged periods of “high” and “extreme” wildfire danger this year.

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