Wildfire Smoke Chokes Moscow

Fires rage over 500,000 acres
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2010 2:04 PM CDT
Tourists wear protective face masks as they walk along the Red square in thick smog, with Saint Basil's Cathedral partially visible in the back, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
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(Newser) – Huge wildfires have blanketed Moscow in a fog of heavy smoke, stinging the eyes and throats of the city's 10 million residents. Firefighters are wrestling with almost 600 distinct fires covering 500,000 acres, CNN reports. The resulting smoke has seeped into subways and apartments throughout Moscow, driving carbon monoxide levels up to five times above acceptably safe levels.

The government has encouraged people to stay indoors, but that’s hardly practical for most, so the streets are filled with pedestrians wearing masks and trying to go about their days. Health experts say it’s as though everyone in the city is smoking several packs of cigarettes a day. To make conditions even more hellish, Russia’s heatwave shows no signs of abating—temperatures climbed to 98°F today, and could reach 104°F by Sunday.

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