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Russia’s Forest Fire Effort Hurt

July 23, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Fuel shortages are hampering efforts to fight forest fires raging across Russia, the forestry service said Friday.

More than 21,000 forest fires have been registered in Russia this summer, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Firefighters have had trouble extinguishing the blazes because they lack fuel for trucks and airplanes, said Dmitry Odintsov, deputy head of the Federal Forestry Service, according to ITAR-Tass.

Russia has had increasing trouble supplying its far-flung regions since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, mostly because the country is too broke to pay for transportation. Fuel shortages have also jeopardized heating in many areas.

Exacerbating the problem, officials said this week that federal money set aside for shipping supplies to the far north had been misused, and so remote areas were unlikely to get all the food and fuel needed for the summer.

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