Russia gaining upper hand on wildfires | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.08.2010
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Russia gaining upper hand on wildfires

Officials in Russia say the tides have turned on thousands of wildfires that have swept the country as an end to a record heat wave appears to be in sight. The threat to Russian nuclear sites has dropped as well.

A fire fighter turns a hose on a wild fire

The fires in Russia are slowly being extinguished

According to Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry, firefighting forces have turned the tables against wildfires that have swept the country in recent weeks.

On Monday around 500 fires were still burning, but the total area affected by the fires has been reduced to about 25 percent of what it was at the height of the blaze.

Russian officials have also reported that the threat posed by the fires to some of the country's nuclear sites has been eliminated.

There were fears that the fires could reach a nuclear research facility in the town of Sarov, east of Moscow, and that fires burning near the still-contaminated site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster could cause radioactive danger.

Two-month heat wave

Russian officials have been criticized for attempting to downplay or cover up the danger to the nuclear sites caused by the fires.

The fires started in the midst of a severe heat wave that has cooked Russia over the past two months. Over 50 people have been killed as a result of the fires and 2,000 homes have been lost.

Meteorologists were hopeful on Monday that a cold front heading toward Moscow would put an end to the record heat.

A severe storm front was expected to hit Moscow Monday morning, after pummeling Russia's northwest earlier in the day with high winds, torrential rain and hail.

The storm left almost 100,000 people in 1,500 towns and villages in the Leningrad region around Saint Petersburg without electricity.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP/AP/dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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