43 forest fires in Siberia

April 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

MOSCOW, April 23 (UPI) -- No settlements were at risk Saturday from more than 40 forest fires in Russia's vast Siberian region, officials said.

The regional office of the Emergency Situations Ministry said the number of fires grew to 43 from 28 in 24 hours, ITAR-Tass reported. The areas most at risk are the heavily forested Altai Republic and the Trans-Baikal region, both on Russia's southern border.

The ministry has deployed 755 firefighters and 188 vehicles.

A spokesman for the regional office said the situation is being closely watched in case the fires spread toward inhabited areas.

Last year, in a summer of record-breaking heat, hundreds of forest fires, mostly in western Russia, killed hundreds of people and destroyed entire villages. Public health officials estimated 56,000 people died as a result of the smog that blanketed Moscow and other large cities or from the heat.

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