Meteorologist: Russia wildfires linked to climate change

This photo taken on Monday, July 29, 2019 and released by Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, shows a fire in the Boguchansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region, Russia Far East. Hundreds of Russian towns and cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain. (Maria Khlystunova/Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory via AP)
This photo taken on Monday, July 29, 2019 and released by Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, shows a fire in the Boguchansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region, Russia Far East. Hundreds of Russian towns and cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain. (Maria Khlystunova/Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory via AP)
This photo taken on Monday, July 29, 2019 and released by Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, shows an air view of a forest fire in the Boguchansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region, Russia Far East. Hundreds of Russian towns and cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain. (Maria Khlystunova, Press Service of the Ministry of Forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory via AP)
This satellite image provided by Roscosmos Space Agency, taken on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, shows forest fires in Sakha Republic region, Eastern Russia. Russian officials say forest fires are spreading in remote areas of Siberia and the Far East that firefighters cannot reach. (Roscosmos Space Agency via AP)

MOSCOW — The head of Russia's meteorological service says he sees global climate change as a factor behind the wildfires blazing throughout Siberia and the country's Far East.

The total area of the blazes increased on Friday to about 31,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles), according to Avialessokhrana, Russia's aerial forest protection service. It said the wildfires weren't being fought because they were difficult to reach.

The fires, which have cast a pall of smoke over hundreds of towns and cities, are occurring during dry conditions that weren't expected to ease soon, even as some areas of the Far East are flooded.

Meteorological service head Maxim Yakovenko told a news conference on Friday that "The cause lies above. It's the climate change that has already occurred."

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