|Moscow's smoke-filled skies:James Hill/NY Times|
(Story reported by Andrew E. Kramer and Kevin Drew for the NY Times)
MOSCOW — Wildfires that have overwhelmed Russia’s firefighting services and burned freely through large areas of the heat-seared countryside have claimed 52 lives, clouded Moscow in smoke and on Friday forced the military to transfer rockets away from a garrison near the capital.
More than 800 wildfires had been reported by the end of the week. Most were in western and central parts of the country, which is in its worst heat wave since record-keeping began here more than 130 years ago.
Temperatures have been spiking since mid-June, and no relief was in sight on Friday, when temperatures in Moscow were forecast to exceed 100 degrees, about 25 degrees higher than usual.
A thick, milky haze shrouded the city, and many Muscovites peered with red-rimmed eyes over the tops of surgical masks or wet handkerchiefs.
By 1:40 p.m., the city’s environmental protection agency said the concentrations of carbon monoxide were five times as much as acceptable levels, while particulate pollution was three times as much.
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