ULAN UDE, April 7 (Itar-Tass) —— Fourteen forest fires were extinguished on an area of 1,000 hectares of the taiga in the Trans-Baikal Territory over the past 24 hours.
“There are 16 fires raging on an area of at least 100 hectares. Two hundred people and more than 40 pieces of machinery are used in the fire-fighting operations. Four fires have been localised,” the regional office of the Emergencies Ministry told Itar-Tass on Saturday, April 7.
The main cause of forest fires in the Trans-Baikal Territory is the burning of dry grass. Agricultural firms and farms have been forbidden to burn dry grass, but private households ignore the ban.
An emergency situation has been in effect in the region since March 26. Business activities, hunting and outings in forests are prohibited. Police patrols and posts have been set up on the roads leading to forests.
The Russian government will allocate 12 billion roubles for righting forest fires in 2012, a six-time increase from 2010.
More fire-fighting equipment will be used this year as well. “Five billion roubles will be allocated for the purchase of equipment in 2012.We will supply more than 2,000 pieces of equipment to regions before the start of the forest fire season,” First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said.
A great deal of attention will be paid to parachute units. “We have created the first such unit of 2,500 people this year. And we think that all these measures will allow us to fight fires effectively,” he said.
Licenses have already been issued to 70 percent of organisations engaged in fire-fighting and the remaining companies will obtain them by April 1, Federal Forestry Agency Head Viktor Maslyakov said earlier.
“Actually, this work started last year. We trained all specialists who are needed in regions. All regions will get the licenses by April 1,” Maslyakov said.
He noted that “all regions have submitted their applications, and 70 percent [of organisations] have already received the licenses”.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for raising public awareness about fire danger and checking the readiness of fire-fighting systems.
He recalled his conversation with Nizhny Novgorod residents. “People say: we keep on calling but no one talks to us and hangs up,” he cited.
“It is necessary to organise proper information work,” Putin said. “Fire fighting capacities should match the danger.”
“Where there is the risk of fire spreading over to houses, it is necessary to check the condition of fire-fighting means and equipment, organise patrolling by fire crews and volunteers, and undertake all the preventive measures promptly,” he said.