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Wildfires 'subside' in Siberian forests

Aug. 4, 2012 at 9:04 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Firefighters battling wildfires blistering nearly 30 million acres of Siberian forests have succeeded in controlling a small portion of the blazes.

Five fires spanning about 4,700 acres had "subsided" by Saturday morning, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Some 174,720 people and more than 39,000 vehicles are working to control the conflagration, the Emergencies Ministry said.

The fires have now spread over 27 million to 30 million acres, Gregory Kuksin, head of the Greenpeace Russia fire safety program said Friday.

The regions of Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Tuva, Khakassia and Irkutsk are most affected.

Some 180 fires are burning, but are not affecting economic or population centers, Russian authorities said.

Kuksin said firefighters had "already wasted this chance" to control the blazes because work had begun too late. He said only steady rains could now put out the fires.

A heat wave in the region has dried up rivers, leaving vessels stranded on the Yenisie and Angara rivers.

It rained in the city of Kemerovo and the Yugra district of the Tyumen region earlier in the week but forecasters do not expect rainfall in other regions until late August.

Most of the wildfires in the Tuva region have been blamed on dry lightning.

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