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Parts Of Southeast Europe Get Respite From Fires; Siberian Villages Still Under Threat


Wind-Fanned Wildfires Scorch Vast Areas In North Macedonia
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Wildfires that have plagued southeastern Europe for days were partially extinguished on August 7, while conflagrations in Siberia endangered several villages and prompted authorities to evacuate some residents.

North Macedonia and neighboring Balkan countries have been ravaged by fires that have been raging this week, particularly in the east of the country, destroying more than 3,000 hectares.

Aid convoys dispatched from Austria reached North Macedonia on August 6, a day after the government declared a state of emergency. Serbia, Bulgaria, and Slovenia also sent assistance.

Large fires also burned in neighboring Kosovo and across the border in Albania, where fire crews managed to bring most of the blazes under control.

Large areas of the so-called Accursed Mountains -- also known as the Albanian Alps -- have been scorched by wildfires in western Kosovo near the border with Albania.

At least one person is known to have died trying to save livestock on his farm.

Kosovar armed forces were called in to help local firefighters and NATO forces provided helicopters to drop water from the air.

Wildfires Devastate Kosovo Mountains
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The fires in northern Russia have been burning for weeks, forcing the evacuation on August 7 of a dozen villages.

Ninety-three forest fires burned across 1.1 million hectares of Sakha-Yakutia in northeastern Siberia, officials said, making it the worst affected region of Russia.

Smoke from the fires covered the Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions. The Ministry of Emergency Situations said there is smoke and a burning smell in almost 400 settlements in the Krasnoyarsk territory and in 17 districts. About 10 flights were delayed at the Krasnoyarsk airport and one flight was canceled.

A fire engulfed dozens of houses in the village of Byas-Kuel, and all residents were evacuated, according to the local task force dealing with the emergency.

Local government leader Andrei Tarasenko said 12 settlements were currently under threat as high winds exacerbated the danger.

Elsewhere, heavy rains brought some respite to Turkey, where fires this week killed eight people and led to evacuations. But in neighboring Greece, hundreds of firefighters continued to fight wildfires that destroyed a record amount of woodland and left hundreds of families homeless.

In what one local official described as "a biblical catastrophe," more than 100 blazes have broken out in Greece as the country copes with strong winds and a heatwave. The fire service said more than 1,450 Greek firefighters were battling the fires, and reinforcements arrived from other countries, including France, Ukraine, Cyprus, Croatia, Sweden, Israel, Romania, and Switzerland.

One volunteer firefighter has died and at least 20 people have been treated in hospitals.

Fires in neighboring Turkey along the southern coast have been described as the worst in decades. The top Turkish forestry official said 217 fires had been brought under control since July 28 in over half of the country’s provinces.

Greek and European officials have blamed climate change for the large number of fires.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and RFE/RL's Siberia.Realities
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