RUSSIA: Wildfires Sweep Across 49,000 Hectares In Russian Far East
ITAR-TASS News Agency, 3 October 2001
By BorisSavelyev Khabarovsk — Almost 49,000 hectares of forest are ablaze in Russia’s FarEastern Primorye region. The wildfires are sweeping across the taiga and peat marshes around the city ofKhabarovsk, and the area ablaze is expanding. Concentrations of carbon dioxide,sulfur and other toxic combustion products in the air are severalfold abovenormal. The air contamination affects people with chronic respiratory diseasesand the elderly. Doctors advised the city population to use gauze masks and respirators forprotection against smoke. The city’s pharmacies sold out all oxygen bags.Khabarovsk’s pulmonological centre is giving hotline telephone consultations toall in need of respiratory care. Calls to the ambulance service have beensurging. Doctors say however, that most of impacts of the smoke-out areexpectable within a month as harmful substances accumulate in theorganism. A spokesman for the regional emergencies centre told Itar-Tass on Wednesday thatthere had been seven new conflagrations in the region, covering an additional1,110 hectares of forest. The emergencies centre supplied fuel for thefire-fighting hardware and sent seven planes and helicopters for forestpatrolling and ferrying fire-fighters to inaccessible areas. A 400 force and 60units of machinery are involved in fire-fighting. Regional emergencies ministryand military units help the operations. There is no direct threat to residentialareas so far.