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Homes destroyed by Russian wildfire

At least seven people have died, including two firefighters, as forest fires continued to rage around several Russian cities, official said.

Fires have encircled the southern city of Voronezh and ravaged the forests and villages in areas around Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's fifth-largest city, located about 300 miles east of Moscow.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya on Friday, where all 341 houses have burned to the ground, and kissed the cheek of one woman who was sobbing.

Putin pledged to punish any officials found responsible for allowing the fires to burn out of control.

About 200,000 acres are still burning as Russia suffers a week-long heat wave and severe drought.

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