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Forest fire season to start early in Russia this year

April 02, 2014, 15:22 UTC+3 Adds ¶ ¶ MOSCOW
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© ITAR-TASS/Viktor Chavain

MOSCOW, April 02. /ITAR-TASS/. Forest fires have broken out early in a season dubbed "tense this year", Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Donskoi told a conference chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and addressing preparations for difficult days ahead.

"The situation is tense in Russia this year. Because of low precipitation, the season has begun almost 1.5 months ahead of the norm," the minister said. Seventeen fires have already been registered across a territory of 2,000 hectares, the minister said.

Weather experts forecast outbreaks in southern Siberia, the Far Eastern federal district and the Baikal and Amur regions. In May and June, fires threaten the Central and Volga federal districts, Donskoi said, adding that Baikal was most exposed.

Citing reasons for danger, the minister noted an early spring and a shallow layer of frozen soil. This was only 40-50% of normal levels and was leaving dry surface soil.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has adopted an inter-regional fire prevention plan employing an additional 3,000-strong contingent of firefighters, 800 units of firefighting equipment and 4,000 fire extinguishers, the minister said.

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