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MOSCOW, June 6 (Itar-Tass) — Nine paratroopers have died when extinguishing a huge forest fire in Tuva, a Federal Forestry Agency source told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“A huge forest fire erupted on an area of 500 hectares in the Barun-Khemchiksky district which later grew into a crown fire. A group of 13 paratroopers from the Tuva air base was called in to suppress it. Four paratroopers have reportedly walked out of the fire area, the other nine have died,” the agency’s spokesperson said.
Investigation has been launched into the paratroopers’ death. All of them had undergone training and had professional skills and experience in extinguishing fires.
The Federal Forestry Agency (Rosselkhoz) has published a list of the dead paratroopers. They include Sergei Fedotov, Nikolai Bylev, Viktor Stremousov, Nikolai Novikov, Vladimir Kechil-ool, Radion Khuurak, Kherel Kyzyl-ool, Andrei Shilin and Sergei Paderin. The youngest paratrooper was 22 years old. The oldest one was 38.
The Federal Forestry Agency has decided to give material aid to the families of the dead.
A difficult forest fire situation has developed in Tuva in recent months. A state of emergency was announced in the republic on June 5.
“Strong winds and mountainous conditions are making the situation worse,” the Federal Forestry Agency said.
The crown fire is posing no threat to the population of the Kara-Khol populated area, which is located 20 kilometers away.
The Federal Forestry Agency has sent another 100 paratroopers from its federal reserve to Tuva.
A dry hot weather with strong squall winds and no rain has set in in Tuva. Fires are raging in impassable mountainous areas at a height of more than 20 kilometers. In these circumstances, the anti-fire service of the Tuva Republic doesn’t have sufficient forces and means to suppress the fires, the press service of the Tuva government cited Sholban Kara-ool, the head of republic, as saying on Wednesday.
Fourteen forest fires are raging on a total area of 4,570 hectares. Only two of them have been localized.
“One hundred seventy-eight people, 27 pieces of fire-fighting equipment and four aircraft are being used to fight the fire,” the Federal Forestry Agency reports.