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Footage Shows Wildfires Engulfing Siberian Towns

Climate change increases the frequency of unusually hot, dry days, which sets the conditions for deadly wildfires like the ones that claimed at least 26 lives in Siberia this week.

by VICE News
Apr 15 2015, 7:45pm

Image via YouTube

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Amid high temperatures and strong winds, wildfires ripped across Siberia earlier this week and scientists suspect climate change may have helped fan the flames. 

The fires killed at least 26 people, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP)The BBC reports that thousands of others were displace by the flames. 

Temperatures hit 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, according to AFP

A wildfire burnt more than 100 buildings in 16 villages in Russia's southern Siberian republic of Khakassia on Sunday, April 12.

Climate change increases the frequency of unusually hot, dry days, which boosts the risk of wildfires, Melissa Chipman, a University of Illinois ecologist, told VICE News. 

"It's not just, 'Is it going to get warmer; are there going to be more fires?' It's, 'Are there going to be more extreme days, extreme weeks, that are going to facilitate these fires?'" she said. "It seems like it was facilitated by anomalously warm and dry conditions during a season when you usually don't get them."

Fires threatened Chita in the southeast Russian province of Zabaykalsky Krai on Tuesday, April 14, with flames approaching the edge of the city, engulfing it in smoke.

Scenes of Russian motorists driving along highways engulfed by flames could become a more common fixture in the years ahead, said Chipman.

"The extreme conditions are really what facilitated the fire," she told VICE News. "As these extreme conditions become more likely in the future, then that's really what can facilitate the burning."