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Forest Fires Kill 25 In Russia Amid Heat Wave

Russian Heat Wave Fans Fires
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WATCH: Deadly forest fires reached the outskirts of the city of Voronezh in central Russia on July 29, destroying private homes and forcing the evacuation of hospitals and tourist facilities.

Forest and peat fires in central Russia have killed at least 25 people and forced thousands from their homes amid a record-breaking heat wave.

Three firefighters are reportedly among the dead.

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Defense Ministry to send soldiers to help put out the blazes, which currently engulf more than 866 square kilometers -- an area about the size of Berlin.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on July 30 flew to the central Nizhny Novgorod region, one of the worst-hit regions, for an emergency meeting with local officials.

In Verkhnyaya Vereya, a village completely destroyed by the flames, he pledged to build new houses for all 500 residents and said each of them will receive compensation of more than $6,600.

The temperature in the Russian capital on July 29 rose above 38 degrees Celsius -- the highest since records began 130 years ago.

The heat wave has also destroyed crops and pushed thousands of farmers to the verge of bankruptcy.