Russian army battles wildfires

MASLOVKA, Russia — Russia sent the army on Saturday to battle wildfires that have killed at least 28 people and were threatening dozens of towns and villages. Thick smoke and ash slowed firefighting efforts and thousands of people were being evacuated.

Half of the 300 homes in the village of Maslovka, half a day's drive south of Moscow, were reduced to cinders. Stunned locals sifted through the ash for possessions to salvage and people pooled what little food they had — mainly potatoes and carrots — to ensure no one starved.

"This is a catastrophe," Maslovka resident Yevgeniya Yuzhina said as she waited in a hotel lobby in the nearby city of Voronezh filling out a form to receive cash compensation.

All 300 of the army's fire trucks have been dispatched, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

Canadian jets block Russian bombers

OTTAWA, Canada — Canadian warplanes intercepted two long-range Russian bombers that tried to intrude into Canadian airspace, the defense ministry confirmed on Saturday.

The Tupolev-95 planes made several attempts to breach Canadian airspace on Friday but were repelled by CF-18 jets, the ministry said.

Russian sources quoted in the Canadian media said the bombers were on a regular training flight and did not infringe Canada's airspace.

The incident occurred about 310 miles north of Goose Bay in the east of Labrador, where the Canadian air force has a large base. Labrador is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Canada.

The bombers have breached the airspace of Britain, Iceland, Japan, Canada and other countries in recent years.