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Wildfires flare up in Russia's east

Aug. 13, 2012 at 8:22 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- More than 480 responders in Russia worked to contain wildfires that flared up within the last 24 hours in the country's Far East, the government said.

Forestry officials in the Far East said more than 480 firefighters from 63 separate units were sent to fight more than a dozen blazes, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"Seven forest fires are active in the region as of Monday morning," a government statement read. "There is no threat to residential areas and service facilities."

Massive wildfires in Russia in 2010 killed 62 people and wiped out more than 2 million hectares of land, causing concerns about the global supply of staple food crops such as grain. Those fires wiped out about a quarter of Russia's total grain production.

Last week, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported the monthly food price index for July rose 6 percent in large part to weather-related issues.

Sugar prices increased by 12 percent because of unseasonable rains in Brazil, the largest sugar exporter, and grain prices rose 19 percent because of low production expectations from Russia.

Reports from Russia didn't state what crops, if any, were damaged by recent fires.

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