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."