Cyclone brings rains in Khabarovsk terr where forest fires raging

Cyclone brings rains in Khabarovsk terr where forest fires raging

17 July 2008

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Russia — The cyclone has brought long-awaited rains in the Khabarovsk territory in the small hours on Thursday. For the first time in the past few days Khabarovsk residents do not stifle from a heavy smoke.

However, the rains did not put down the fires in forests and in peat bogs. The territorial ministry of the forestry industry said 20 fires were reported on the area of 2,500 hectares on Thursday. More than 170 people are involved in the firefighting efforts.

No one extinguishes the fires in peat bogs that exceed the area of 30,000 hectares. “The peat bogs are on fire in the hard-to-reach districts of the Nanay region, where there are not roads. The machinery cannot help in the issue, as heavy tracked vehicles may just fall in the bog, and people cannot be put at risk,” a source in the main territorial emergencies department said. Peat bogs getting hot to 50-54 degrees Celsius under the sun self-inflamed all deep through. Only long rains can put down the fires,” the source said.

The emergency services warned that heavy smoke screens are inevitable if the wind changes its direction. People are recommended in these cases to stay in the street as little as possible, close the windows and doors tightly. On Wednesday, not only the number of people seeking medical advice has increased sharply, but also even lethal cases were reported.

A difficult fire situation has emerged in Yakutia. The smoke from forest fires reached Yakutsk, a source in the republican natural resources ministry told Itar-Tass on Thursday. More than 15,000 hectares of forests are ablaze in Yakutia. As compared with same period in the previous year the number fires in the republic has increased about fivefold. As many as 198 forest fires broke out since the beginning of the fire-prone season.

The abnormal heat deteriorates the situation. Even in Verkhoyansk in the Polar region the air temperature skyrocketed to 33.3 degrees above zero. This heat spell was reported for the first time in the whole history of weather observation.

Due to the current fire situation the Yakut government has allocated another 40 million roubles for the firefighting efforts, and the air forest protection service recruited 80 contract paratroopers.

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