Heavy rain cools down Russian capital, but wildfires go on

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 14, 2010 12:45

MOSCOW — Heavy downpours cooled the Russian capital after weeks of no rain and unprecedented heat, but dozens of wildfires still raged around Moscow and a new blaze was spotted near the country's top nuclear research center on Saturday morning.

The city remains largely free of the clouds of suffocating smog that affected it earlier, but meteorologists say smoke from burning forests and peat bogs may choke the city over the weekend if the wind direction changes.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday its teams have managed to reduce the area covered by wildfires, but more than 500 were continuing to burn across the country, including 29 around Moscow. It said about 14,000 firefighters were battling blazes around the Russian capital.

Russia was receiving help from the United States, which on Friday began deliveries of firefighting equipment valued at $2.5 million (€2 million), the US Embassy said. The state of California also has contributed fire-protective clothing.

Several other countries also have contributed to the firefighting effort, including France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Turkey, as well as Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Some have sent firefighting aircraft and personnel.


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