Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev who reported on the situation with wildfires in the Trans-Baikal Territory. The President instructed the Ministry to reinforce its force battling the blaze and also take measures to urgently evacuate the residents of affected areas.
The Minister informed the President that the Ministry has a federal task force active near the fire sites and that currently the use of aircraft in firefighting operations is impeded by weather conditions. However, the plan for Saturday morning is to concentrate the required resources in Chita and step up firefighting efforts from the air. Yevgeny Zinichev reported that the wildfires, likely caused by the burning of dry grass, spread rapidly due to strong winds reaching speeds of 30 metres per second. As a result, 12 residential areas have been damaged by fire. Fires have been extinguished in 10 of them but are still burning in two.
According to the Emergencies Minister, in total 130 buildings have been damaged by fire, including 87 residential houses – homes to 263 people, 29 of them children; 77 people have been evacuated from affected areas.
The Minister noted that the use of aircraft is also impeded by the fact that most local bodies of water are still covered with ice, so aircraft have to be filled with water at the airport.
Following the report, the President instructed the Minister to reinforce the task group in order to extinguish the fires as soon as possible and to take all necessary steps to urgently evacuate people, if required.
via Website of the President of Russia