Situation With Forest Fires In Russia Remains Tense
ITAR-TASS, May 24, 2002
Moscow — Long-expected rains have so far failed to help firefighters put under control forest fires raging in the Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk Territory. Over the past day ten fires were eliminated, but eight more ones emerged, increasing the area of burning forests by another 2,500 hectares. Fires in the Far Eastern region have affected a total of 53,000 hectares of forests, the local natural resources department told Tass. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu made a stop-over in Khabarovsk on the way to Kamchatka Friday afternoon. He held a regional conference with the chiefs of Far Eastern forest protection services, civil defense and emergency situations departments and other agencies to consider additional measures against the natural disaster. The situation with forest fires in Sakhalin Island still remains tense, Tass learnt on Friday at the regional administration. Eight seats of fire over an area of 117 hectares were put out over the past 24 hours. However, 13 fires are still blazing over an area of 5,000 hectares of the taiga and surrounding areas. All in all, there were 84 flareups in forests since the start of May, and fire gutted 6,500 hectares. The most difficult situation remains in the Smirnykhovsky district where Governor of the Sakhalin Region Igor Farkhutdinov even imposed a special fire-fighting regime. Forest is ablaze in seven places, and only three fires were localized in the district, situated in the central part of the island. The largest fires were recorded in the Onorsky and Pobedinsky forestries where over 2,000 hectares of taiga burnt down. the number of forest fires has sharply increased in the Baikal area of Russia. Itar-Tass was told there at the Territorial Forest Protection Aircraft Center that new fires were spotted in one hundred areas of the Taiga during the past twenty-four hours. This means that their number has increased four-fold. In expert opinion, the hot weather and shortage of humidity create favorable conditions for the breakout of large-scale fires, while comparatively small seats of fire may turn into huge conflagrations, which are apt to spread to forbidding forestlands. Therefore, an emergency situation, declared a week ago, is still in force in Irkutsk Region. Even the rains, brought to the Amur area by a recent cyclone, did not help the fire-fighting teams to successfully accomplish their jobs in Khabarovsk Territory. More than ten fires were extinguished on Thursday, but eight new ones burst out shortly afterwards. The area of burning forests has increased by 2,500 hectares. Ablaze today are 53,000 hectares of the Taiga. The situation is particularly grave in Vanino, Komsomolsk, Solnechny, Verkhnebureinsk districts, and in some other spots, where particularly large fires are still continuing.