The 2010 fire catastrophe in Russia and its consequences

In a news release of[i] of August 21st, 2011, Russian forest experts warn of a new fire catastrophe. Exactly one year ago, a devastating firestorm rolled through the country resulting in Moscow being trapped several days under a huge smog blanket.

The reasons for this warning are missing early warning systems, obsolete extinguishing systems and insufficient fire protection. In addition, there are not enough fire lanes and canal systems for eliminating the danger from peat fires difficult to extinguish. Due to the drain of single land parts in Russia the peat soil ignites particularly easily. As a result, large wads of smoke and smouldering fires develop.      

In July 2011, again large surface fires occurred due to a new heat wave, which according to the press, may have devastated as much or even more land than the year before. However, the fires mainly developed in remote and difficult to reach areas such as Siberia. Therefore, Moscow has not been involved this time.   

Even so, the mortality has increased to about 50% in the capital. „It is as if you sit in your car with the engine running in your garage", this is how the doctor Sergej Petrow describes the situation in the metropolis with the pungent smoke of burning peat fields at that time. "A mask may help against smoke particles, but not against toxic gases". According to the Ministry of Health, because of smog and temperatures of 40°C during several days, the number of respiratory system diseases significantly rose and has led to this dramatic increase of mortality.