FiresBurn up 113,000 ha of Taiga in Far East Russia
ITAR-TASSNews Agency, 12 May 2003
Khabarovsk- Fires are not brought under control in Far East Russia so far, though 750 to1200 people and hundreds of vehicles and up to 30 aircraft fight the blaze everyday.Thereare 49 fires in the taiga as of this Monday, the Far Eastern environmentalcontrol department told Itar-Tass.TheKhabarovsk territory and the Amur region each reports 18 fires, and most of themare large. Forestry services put out 15 fires over the past day, but 16 new onesbroke out.Fiveof such outbreaks spread over more than 7,000 hectares in the Amur region, witha strong wind complicating the situation.
Accordingto specialists, the scope of damage from fires may be catastrophic this year. Sincethe beginning of the warm season, 113,000 hectares of taiga have burnt up, threetimes more than over last year’s same period.Thetotal area of burnt bush and fields near forests, including restricted reservezones, exceeds 224,000 hectares, seven times more than last year.Accordingto reports from the Trans-Baikal region, large conflagrations do not subside inthe forests either. A total of 55,000 hectares of taiga are afire in the Chitaregion.Atthe same time, outbreaks have been brought under control over 48,000 hectares,the Trans-Baikal regional natural reserves department told Itar-Tass.
Themost serious situation is in the Khilok and Chita regions. Smoke from the firesshrouds the city of Chita.Morethan 2,500 people and 400 units of the enginery are fighting the blaze.Thirty-eight fires over 18 hectares of forest have been brought under controlover the past 24 hours.Morethan 245,000 hectares of taiga have burnt up in the Chita region since thebeginning of this year. There have been no fires of such a scope there since1987.Meanwhile,in the Baikal territory, all the large conflagrations have been brought undercontrol over the past day, the territorial forestry airbase administration toldItar-Tass on Monday.
Usingbulldozers and other equipment, firemen managed to stop the blaze from spreadingin 15 particularly dangerous areas over a total of 1,500 hectares.Rainslast Saturday and Sunday also helped cope with taiga fires in the Irkutsk andUst-Orda Buryat regions, reducing the number of blaze outbreaks in half. Nevertheless,there is still a threat that the blaze may spread from the remaining 50 smalloutbreaks, as dry and windy weather is forecast in the Baikal territory.
Buryatiahas reported 85 fires over more than 3,000 hectares this Monday. Thirty-sixfires over 1,800 hectares have been extinguished there over the past 24 hours. Morethan 1,200 people are fighting the fires there. They use aircraft and heavyvehicles.