Moscow wildfires out by weekend: minister

Moscow wildfires out by weekend: minister

20 August 2010

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Fires in peatbogs and forests surrounding Moscow, which have made life a misery in the Russian capital since July, will be extinguished by Sunday, Russia’s emergencies minister said.

“The fires should be entirely contained at the end of the week, August 22,” Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies during a crisis meeting.

“As of Thursday, 95 per cent of the fires in the Moscow region have been put out,” deputy emergencies minister Alexander Chupriyan was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency. Flames are currently covering a surface of seven hectares in the region, compared with 56 hectares on Aug. 8, he said.

Shoigu put the initial cost of the fires in the Moscow region at $409.1 million Canadian, covering firefighting costs, reconstruction and fuel.

Across Russia yesterday, fires were covering an area of 11,200 hectares, down from 20,000 hectares on Wednesday, the ministry said. At the peak of the crisis, some 200,000 hectares had been ablaze in forest and peat bog fires that killed more than 50 people.

Cooler temperatures were helping the situation, with Moscow a pleasant 24 degrees, a far cry from the 38 degrees at the peak of the heat wave. However, a fire in a 15-hectare rubbish dump outside Moscow was sending vile-smelling fumes over parts of the city.

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