Next to the charred remains of a home in the Russian city of Voronezh, women console each other on July 30.
Across Russia at least 2,000 homes have been lost to fire and almost 2,900 square miles (7,500 square kilometers) have been singed in recent weeks, according to government statements cited by Bloomberg. Already some reconstruction has begun in Voronezh and other areas, the news agency reported.
In addition to the record-breaking heat wave, much of Russia, one of the world's biggest grain exporters, is parched from the country's worst drought since 1972, according to the Associated Press. Saying 20 percent of Russia's 2010 wheat crop had been ruined, the government on August 5 banned grain exports for the rest of the year.
A woman flees fires—but can't escape the heat—outside the town of Vyksa, Russia, on July 29.
Hundreds of miles away, Moscow has seen its death rate double over the past week, the capital city's top health official said Monday. From the usual 360 to 380 deaths a day, the figure has risen to approximately 700, Andrei Seltsovsky announced in a televised meeting, according to the New York Times.
The key cause of the uptick, doctors and officials say, isn't the wildfire smoke but the oppressive heat, for which northerly Moscow is apparently unprepared.
Enveloped in a smoky haze, Russians try to hold back a forest fire from consuming the village of Golovanovo—threatened like countless others across Russia by ongoing wildfires.
"The Russian population affected by extreme heat is at least double the population of Moscow," which numbers about ten million, Jeff Masters, meteorological director for the website Weather Underground, blogged on Monday.
Photograph by Natalia Kolesnikova, AFP/Getty Images
Nightmarish Russian wildfires add a dreamlike tinge to a wedding picture on August 7 in Moscow—a rare spot of celebration amid the worst Russian heat wave on record.
Many Muscovites are running not into each other's arms but toward smokeless regions. By Monday, all train tickets to the more northern city of St. Petersburg were sold out for the near future, state television reported, according to the New York Times.
Russian service members haul away trees felled to hold wildfires at bay outside the town of Lukhovitsy on August 6.
Elsewhere, on August 7, troops dug a long canal as a bulwark against fires advancing on the Sarov nuclear arms design and production facility, Reuters reported. All radioactive and explosive material had been preemptively removed by August 5, according to Russia's top nuclear official, cited by Reuters. The country's Emergencies Ministry later announced that the Sarov situation was stable.
(Related: "Warming Climate Fueling Wildfires, Study Says.")
Photograph by Denis Sinyakov, Reuters
Fire in the Distance
A house burns outside the Russian town of Vyksa on July 29.
Despite such apocalyptic images, not all of the country is going up in smoke or withering from the heat. A wide swath of northern-central Russia is actually experiencing something of a cold spell, according to a NASA temperature map of Russia released Monday.
(Pictures: "California Fires Rage, Visible in Space" .)