Wildfires fires in northern Russia have now spread to the central area of the country, authorities have warned.
Firefighters were battling 15 forest fires in the Urals region of Sverdlovsk, Russia’s emergencies ministry said on Wednesday.
Authorities have issued an “extreme fire danger” alert for the region, which lies on the border of Europe and Asia.
Images posted on social media showed the fire raging on both sides of a federal road linking two major cities, Yekaterinburg and Perm.
According to local media, the authorities had to close the highway for most of the day on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, fires have also grown intense in Mordovia, a region southeast of Moscow, where 50 firefighters found themselves in the middle of a “ring of fire” this week while fighting a blaze in a nature reserve.
It took them several hours to escape, the local emergency ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
In the Nizhny Novgorod region, east of Moscow, nine aircraft poured 129 tonnes of water to try to control a large forest fire that was spreading towards neighbouring Mordovia.
Some 1,200 firefighters were also deployed there, according to the emergencies ministry.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were “lessons to be learned” from the fires that have ravaged Siberia for several months, and pledged €300 million to protect the forests.
For several years now, Siberia has experienced major fires, the intensity of which is more severe each summer. Experts have attributed the increase in fires to climate change, as well as the insufficient protection of Russian forests.
Officials in hard-hit regions have called for resources and economic support from Moscow to deal with the damage.