Russian military sends planes to fight wildfires in Siberia

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia engaged military aircraft Wednesday to fight wildfires that have engulfed wide swaths of Siberia.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it provided heavy-lift Il-76 transport planes to help douse fires in northeastern Siberia’s Sakha-Yakutia region. The planes dumped 330 metric tons (364 tons) of water on the most active fires.

The military also sent helicopters to help transport firefighters and supplies in the region.

The Russian state agency responsible for fighting forest fires, Avialesookhrana, said Tuesday that more than 300 fires had engulfed 799,500 hectares (more than 1,975,000 acres).

It said that the worst situation was in Yakutia, where 144 fires covered 578,000 hectares (over 1,428,000 acres).

Russia has been plagued by widespread forest fires, blamed on unusually high temperatures and the neglect of fire safety rules.

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