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Millions of Acres Destroyed by Forest Fires

July 26, 1996

MOSCOW (AP) _ A total of 19,000 forest fires in Russia so far this year have destroyed 3.9 million acres of woodlands _ five times more than over the same period in 1995.

Valery Shubin, chief of the Russian Federal Forestry Service, told the ITAR-Tass news agency Friday that some 300 fires are now raging in the Far East and eastern Siberia, and many of them are burning out of control near populated areas.

Shubin said 11 forestry service firefighters have been killed in blazes this year, the largest death toll in several years.

The fires, which began in May, have been fanned by unseasonably high temperatures and dry weather, according to Dmitry Odintsov, the forestry service’s deputy chief.

Shubin said the damage from forest fires in Russia this year exceeds $200 million.

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