Smog over Moscow Worsens as Wildfires Rage

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A record heat wave in Russia has fueled nearly 600 deadly wildfires that have left a path of destruction in their wake.

Despite the efforts of about 10,000 firefighters, the flames have claimed the lives of at least 52 people and left an estimated 2,000 people homeless.

A thick cloud of smoke from the fires smothered the capital city of Moscow again Saturday. Visibility was near zero in the city's famous Red Square. The smog has crept into buildings and the subway system.

City health officials reported that airborne pollutants like carbon monoxide were at six times their normal levels.

"I can't bear it any more," said Anna Kozyreva, 25. "My parents have left the city. All I want to is breathe normally, but my job doesn't allow me to leave."
     
"The smoke is everywhere - at home, in shopping malls, on the subway," added Roman Morozov, a 29-year old architect.

The country is in the middle of a record heat wave that has provided the perfect breeding ground for the fires to spread. Temperatures in the region have been topping 100 degrees nearly every day.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the wildfires. Medvedev accused local and military authorities of failing to adequately prepare for the disaster.

Valery Shantsev, governor of the city Nizhny Novgorod, denied the charges.

"We are not talking about ordinary fires. We did not have the strength or resources to combat such abnormal conditions," he said  

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