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Jessica Golloher | Moscow 20 August 2010
Andrei Savelyev, 46, stands at the site of his house that was burnt down during the forest fires, 17 Aug 2010, in the village of Yuzhny, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, some 300 kilometers (187.5 miles) east of Moscow
The heat wave that gripped Moscow and surrounding regions is over Friday as a cold front hit western Russia sending temperatures plummeting into the low teens. This after temperatures averaged in the mid-30s for nearly two months. The high temperatures sparked tens of thousands of fires across Russia and caused the country's worst drought on record.
Russia had been experiencing the hottest weather on record. The drought and temperatures triggered tens of thousands fires across the country. More than 50 people are dead, thousands of homes have been destroyed and millions of crops have been affected due to the heat, drought and flames.
Russian Emergency officials say a wave of cold air from the north and strong winds have helped them drastically reduce the number of fires raging around the country to about 9,000 hectares. That's less than one 20th of the area that was affected by the blazes when they were at their worst.
Muscovite Nikolai, who refused to give his last name, says he's happy about the weather change.
He says the air has become colder, it's easier to breath and he feels more comfortable. He says the heat made it hard for him to stay in Moscow and he was sick and tired of it. So, he's really happy about the change.
The cooler weather has also lifted the toxic smog that has enveloped the Russian capital off and on for weeks. At its worst, the acrid smoke caused carbon monoxide to soar to nearly seven times the acceptable level.
Moscow resident Sergei says he's glad the awful smoke is gone.
Sergei says this is the best option for Moscow because when the acrid smoke is gone, people don't feel the air pollution. He says the environment is very important to Russians.
According to the head of Moscow's health department, Andrei Seltsovsky, the city's death rate doubled during the heat wave. Seltsovsky attributes this, in part, to the heat, fires and dangerous smog that were in the air of and on for the last eight weeks.
Despite the warnings from officials not to spend time outdoors and avoid the acrid smoke, this man says he wants the warm weather back.
He says who cares about the smog? He says it wasn't that bad. He says what's important is that it was warm and he hates the cold.
Meanwhile the Russian Emergency Ministry says the fires caused about $400 million worth of damage. Some economists estimate the combination of record heat, fires and drought will cost the Russian economy at least $15 billion.