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Fire Destroys Historic Tatar Village In Siberia

Firefighters tackle the blaze in the village of Karakul.

KARAKUL, Russia -- A wildfire has ravaged a 16th century Tatar village in Siberia that authorities had planned to turn into a tourist attraction.

The Omsk Tatars National and Cultural Autonomy group said the fire that started on the afternoon of May 6 lasted for about 15 hours and completely destroyed 25 buildings, including 14 private houses and a shop in the village of Karakul in the Omsk region that borders with Kazakhstan.

Firefighters were brought to the site as the wildfire reached the village, but they couldn't overcome heavy winds that fanned the flames across the village.

Karakul is a unique, centuries-old settlement of Siberian Tatars with very old wooden houses, carrying traditional Tatar carvings on the buildings' facades, windows, and doors.

The village is also known across Russia for preserving ancient Siberian Tatar culture and traditions going back to the time of the Khanate of Sibir.

The Omsk Tatars National and Cultural Autonomy group has launched a fundraising campaign to help restore the village.