One of the Coldest Places on Earth Is On Fire


MOSCOW—The smoke from the fires in Russia’s northeast is so thick it has blotted out the sun, plunging swaths of the region into darkness during the brief summer.

A state of emergency has been declared in the city of Yakutsk, where freezing winter temperatures have given it the reputation of being the coldest constantly inhabited city on the planet. Residents have been told to stay indoors while volunteers and firefighters brave temperatures surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

In all, the wildfires have devoured over 10 million acres of land in the Yakutia region this summer, with 175 fires still burning, according to government data. Scientists fear the amount of carbon dioxide released from the Russian blazes could surpass last year’s record. Similar scenes are playing out across several parts of the globe as emergency teams battle wildfires in Turkey, Southern Europe and the U.S., including California and Hawaii, where brush fires have exploded to encompass some 40,000 acres. Scientists say extreme heat in some areas and drought have contributed to sparking the fires.

More than 2,400 firefighters have been deployed to battle the Russian wildfires, supported by troops and military aircraft, while volunteers such as Ayil Dyulurkha have pitched in, desperate to stop the wildfires spreading to towns where they could destroy homes and businesses.

It is a world away from managing the courier company he founded six months ago in Yakutsk, Mr. Dyulurkha said. “When you come back from the fire, you cough and black soot shoots from your nose,” he said.

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