This lesson in human folly has particularly painful meaning for me:
Among all the troubles that have been visited on Russia in this summer of record heat, wildfires, smoke and crop failure, perhaps none have been so persistent and impervious to remedy as the peat fires. Particularly maddening, many here say, is the knowledge that the problem is caused by humans.
As early as 1918 Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. That approach was abandoned in the late 1950s, after natural gas was discovered in Siberia, but the bogs were never reflooded, though the authorities are currently weighing the idea.
For now, though, firefighters here are confronted with subterranean conflagrations that are among the world’s toughest fires to snuff out, according to the small community of experts on bog fires.
The word in Russian is тoрф... Turf. A word added to Russian during Peter the Great, from German.