15% of Environment in Russia Fails to Meet Admissible Norms

Forest Fires in Khabarovsk Region Approach Settlements

ITAR-TASS News Agency, July 31, 2003
By Boris Savelyev


Khabarovsk — Forest fires in Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk region are raging up to one kilometer away from the settlements of Bystrinsky, Prudki, Durmin and several other villages of the region, sources from the regional department for natural resources told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

Villagers of Bulava on Wednesday stopped the fire just one-and-a-half kilometer away from their homes. A total of 256 taiga fires are registered in Russia’s Far East, including 99 in the Khabarovsk region, where 35,000 hectares of taiga are engulfed in flames. Smoke prevents planes from taking off to put out fires.

Smog is hovering over cities and settlements of the Amur Region. Medics do their best to help the people.

Almost 3,000 people, supported by planes, helicopters and ground hardware, are combating fires. However, specialists say that only intensive and long rains can put out fires. Almost 800,000 hectares of forests have already been destroyed by fire this year.

Meanwhile, a cyclone hitting the Baikal region has helped put out all forest fires in the region. The remaining two fires on the area of 100 hectares were stopped with the help of bulldozers and other hardware.

Meanwhile, specialists expect another wave of forest fires in the second half of August, when scores of people will be gathering cedar nuts and berries in local forests. Such fires, which erupt on a regular basis at this time, continue till the end of September.

According to early reports, 180,000 hectares of forests have been destroyed by fire in the Baikal region this year. Dry weather that persisted in the region from April to July contributed to that.


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