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article imageThree die in raging Siberia wildfires in Russia

By AFP     May 25, 2017 in Environment

Russia on Thursday launched a probe into the deaths of three people in Siberian wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced the authorities to impose a state of emergency.

Two people were found dead in the town of Kansk in Russia's Siberian Krasnoyarsk region, according to investigators in the region, who said a fire spread in the area due to hot weather and strong wind.

The victims, a man and a woman, had been exposed to heat and fire in the town where 52 homes burned down, the Krasnoyarsk branch of the Investigative Committee said in a statement, adding that a probe was launched into possible negligence.

Another woman died from a fire in her garden in neighbouring Irkutsk region, another area where authorities have declared elevated fire danger due to weather conditions.

The Krasnoyarsk region declared a state of emergency on Wednesday due to "difficult household and wild fire conditions and dry windy weather," the emergency ministry said.

Emergency workers were battling the flames in Kansk and two other villages and were trying to prevent forest fires from moving into residential areas, it said.

Russia's forest agency said over 2,000 people are working on containing 74 wildfires, mostly in Siberia and the Far East, and that the Zabaikalsky region has also declared a state of emergency.

Russia annually experiences devastating wildfires with the cash-strapped forest service struggling to cover vast expanses.

Greenpeace says the problem is caused by people burning dry grass, careless handling of fires and the underreporting of small blazes by the authorities, which often allows them to grow out of control.

On Thursday the environmental organisation said that 144 houses burned down in six villages on Wednesday alone from fires that were started by people.

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