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Primorsky Krai prosecutors probing into nature reserve wildfires

March 22, 2012, 13:18 UTC+3

In 2011, a total of 338 cases of forest fires were registered in the Primorsky Territory

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VLADIVOSTOK, March 22 (Itar-Tass) — The Prosecutor’s Office of the Primorsky Territory on Thursday launched a probe into the facts linked with fire extinguishing efforts in the Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge. “The probe will give an assessment to the actions of the regulatory bodies and other organisations responsible for the territory regarding the completeness of the measures taken by them,” a senior aide to the regional prosecutor, Yelena Telegina, told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev turned to Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Minister of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) Sergei Shoigu and governor of the Primorsky Territory Vladimir Miklushevsky with a request to take all necessary measures and provide assistance in the fire extinguishing efforts in the Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge. According to the ministry, the fire has affected an area of more than 1,000 hectares of grass and shrubs within the boundaries of the Federal Wildlife Refuge on lands occupied by the Defence Ministry’s military training ranges. Only the refuge’s employees have been engaged in the fire fighting efforts, and the situation is complicated by the bad weather conditions.

Meanwhile, a bulletin of the EMERCOM main department for the Primorsky Territory on Thursday reports only about grassland, rather than wildfires. In particular, it states that 33 thermal anomalies have been spotted with the help of satellite surveillance in the Primorsky Territory in a day, 23 of them are grassland fires. However, the EMERCOM admits that the situation is difficult: on Wednesday, a special fire fighting regime, restricting access to forests for people and vehicles was introduced in the Khasan district where the Leopardovy Wildlife Refuge is situated.

In 2011, a total of 338 cases of forest fires were registered in the Primorsky Territory. However, the area covered by fires has decreased by 30 percent, compared to 2010. This reduction has been achieved through the prompt detection and extinguishing of fires, as a result of which 93 percent of fires were liquidated within a day.

This year, 50 new vehicles - fire trucks, tractors, bulldozers have been engaged in the forest fire fighting efforts. An additional 25 fire stations will be created in the region this year under the regional target program for the Protection of Forests from Fires in the Primorsky Territory.

In addition, the regional administration has concluded 11 state contracts and agreements with air companies on various operations and on the lease of 10 aircraft - five planes and five helicopters for ensuring fire safety.

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