Rains Fail to Subdue Forest Fires in Altai Republic ITAR-TASS News Agency, May 24, 2004 By Sergei Temeyev
Altaisk — An emergency situation introduced in Russia’s Siberian Republic of Altai because of numerous forest fires stays in place despite rains that have fallen over the past two days, a specialist from the local department for national resources told Tass on Monday.
As of Monday morning, seven forest fires are raging in the republic. They have been localized, but still their area is vast – over 800 hectares. Specialists are fighting two fires in the Altai national park.
According to the specialist, Olga Pankratova, there have been 87 forest fires this year. The total area destroyed by fires makes up 1,751 hectares. People are to blame for 80 percent of such fires in the taiga.
About 300 people are combating the blaze presently. They are assisted by dozens of ground vehicles, an An-2 plane as well as Mi-2 and Mi-8 helicopters.
Last week, numerous forest fires began in Altai mountains because of a heat wave, when temperatures reached up to 38 degrees Celsius.
Last year, there were 218 forest fires in the republic, which destroyed 18,400 hectares of woodland. The total damage from last year’s fires was estimated at 50 million roubles (about 1.7 million U.S. dollars).