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    Forest fires continue to rage in Russia's Far East region

    www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-07 17:45:43


    MOSCOW, Aug. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- About 116,000 hectares of forest have already been destroyed as 33 forest fires are raging in Russia's Far East region, said the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.

    Amurskaya obl. and Khabarovsk, where 15 fires are within 10 km to people's living areas, have been the worst hit by the fires.

    In addition, the blazes have also charred 77,000 hectares of non-forest land in the region. Up till now, the area of woodland ravaged by fires in the Far East region is five times larger than that in the corresponding period of last year.

    More than 300 firefighters as well as 14 planes and helicoptershave so far been mobilized to tackle the fires, said officials of Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations.

    Wildfires break out in Russian's Far East region each year but fires of this year are particularly damaging to the eco-system. Experts pointed out that the primitive taiga having been destroyedthis year would need at least 500 years to recover completely. Enditem

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    9:01 am: Two dead in Spanish forest fire as country suffers hottest weather this year



    By ASSOCIATED PRESS
    August 7, 2005

    MADRID, Spain - Two firefighters died as at least 10 forest fires swept across tinder dry landscapes amid soaring summer temperatures across Spain, officials said Sunday.

    The pilot of a small firefighting plane died when his aircraft crashed into trees Saturday as he attempted to spray water on the flames and a land-based fireman was later crushed by falling rocks as he worked to help control a blaze, police said.

    Many of the fires may have been started intentionally, leading Agriculture Minister, Elena Espinosa, to call for "greater responsibility," without elaborating.

    "Many of our forests now face a difficult road to recovery," Espinosa told reporters.

    Spain is in the grip of its worst drought in over 60 years with many rivers, lakes and reservoirs at less than 20 percent of their capacity.

    Temperatures reached 42 Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit), the hottest this year, in several southern regions on Saturday and were likely to stay there for at least one more day the national weather center said.

    Some fear Spain see a repeat of the high summer temperatures seen in 2003, when 19,000 people died across Europe.

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    Post Spain-LODDs

    Two dead in Spanish forest fire as country suffers hottest weather
    this year
    MADRID, Spain (AP) - Two firefighters died as at least 10 forest
    fires swept across tinder dry landscapes amid soaring summer
    temperatures across Spain, officials said Sunday.
    The pilot of a small firefighting plane died when his aircraft
    crashed into trees Saturday as he attempted to spray water on the
    flames and a land-based fireman was later crushed by falling rocks
    as he worked to help control a blaze, police said.
    Many of the fires may have been started intentionally, leading
    Agriculture Minister, Elena Espinosa, to call for "greater
    responsibility," without elaborating.
    "Many of our forests now face a difficult road to recovery,"
    Espinosa told reporters.
    Spain is in the grip of its worst drought in over 60 years with
    many rivers, lakes and reservoirs at less than 20 percent of their
    capacity.
    Temperatures reached 42 Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit), the hottest
    this year, in several southern regions on Saturday and were likely
    to stay there for at least one more day the national weather center
    said.
    Some fear Spain see a repeat of the high summer temperatures
    seen in 2003, when 19,000 people died across Europe.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post France August 7th

    HYERES, France (AP) - Hundreds of firefighters battled blazes in
    two areas of southern France on Sunday that forced the evacuation
    of campsites and temporarily cut electricity in 50,000 homes, fire
    officials said.
    Strong winds fueled the fires, which burned through forested
    areas close to the towns of Hyeres, in the Var region of southern
    France, and Manosque, further to the north in the foothills of the
    Alps.
    Authorities in the Var were forced to cut high-tension lines
    that affected homes in Hyeres and two nearby towns, as some 300
    firefighters battled blazes that had burned through 50 hectares
    (125 acres) of forest, fire officials said.
    Three campsites of vacationers were evacuated near the town of
    Manosque in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, regional official
    Mohamed Saadallah told LCI television.
    The blazes came as French firefighters brought into use a new
    type of water-dropping plane - the Dash-8 - after suspending use of
    Canadair planes following the death of two firefighters in Corsica
    last week.
    Concern about seasonal summer fires in southern France has been
    heightened this year because of a severe drought affecting much of
    southern Europe. Wildfires have burned more than 68,000 hectares
    (168,000 acres) of woodland this year in Portugal.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Two people die as 'deliberate' forest fires ravage Spain



    8 August 2005

    MADRID – Two people have died in the struggle to put out forest fires which are ravaging parts of Spain.

    Francisco Javier Tirado Rodriguez, 29, died on Saturday helping to fight a blaze started that day in Casavieja in Ávila. Rodriguez, who is well-known in his home town for his work protecting the environment, was hit by rocks which became loose during the fire.

    On Monday, officials said the fire had destroyed an estimated 800 hectares of forest and was believed to have been started deliberately.

    On Sunday, in Galicia, in Orense, Antonio Diaz, 50, died as he piloted a plane spraying water over an area engulfed in flames.

    On Monday, more than 27 fires were stillburning throughout the country, many started during the weekend which experts had warned would be especially hot and dry.

    Fire fighters in the province Castilla y Leon were tackling 11 fires which had destroyed some 4,100 hectares, with the most serious being highlighted as that at Avila and a second in La Cabrera in Leon, which had destroyed 3,100 hectares.

    The farming and fishing minister Elena Espinosa, who visited the family of Rodriguez to give her condolences, called for people to behave responsibly. She pointed out that the vast majority of the forest fires this summer have been started deliberately and stressed "the majority of the burnt woods will be difficult to restore".

    For her part, the environment minister Cristina Narbora admitted that the government needed to do more to tackle forest fires.

    "The government isn't satisfied with how it has acted," she said. "However, it isn't resigned; it's committed."

    There were "many faults to be addressed," she added. However, the minister said the conservatives were wrong to accuse the socialist government of "letting people die" and "little short of involuntary homicide".

    "There hasn't been a single year in history when there has been so little rain," she said, adding that those circumstances made exceptional measures necessary. The minister said she would consider vetting local festivals which used fireworks and bonfires, in addition to the ban the government has already introduced on smoking and lighting bonfires in certain zones.

    Narbora said she still felt bitterness, anxiety and powerlessness when she thought of the 11 volunteer firefighters who lost their lives in the Guadalajara fire last month.

    She pointed out that during the conservative PP government's eight years in power, more than a million hectares were destroyed in forest fires and 32 people died.

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    Post August 9th

    Spanish firefighters continue battle against wildfire in south
    MADRID, Spain (AP) - Firefighters battled a three-day-old
    wildfire Wednesday in a national park in southern Spain, helped by
    water-dropping aircraft and firebreaks.
    Authorities estimate that the fire in the Sierra de Cazorla area
    of Jaen province - along with two others in the same region that
    have been brought under control - has burned some 4,000 hectares
    (9,900 acres) of woodland.
    Thirty-eight firefighting aircraft were working to smother the
    fire, the state-run news agency Efe reported.
    Firebreaks set up Tuesday on three sides of the blaze were
    helping halt the flames. Some 1,000 people have been evacuated from
    the area as a precaution.
    The fire, believed to have been sparked by lightning, started
    late Sunday.
    Spain is experiencing its driest summer since record-keeping
    began in the 1940s, and has seen more than 50,000 hectares (123,550
    acres) of woodland ruined by about 5,000 forest fires so far this
    year.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post August 10th

    By ANGELA DOLAND
    Associated Press Writer
    PARIS (AP) - They're the daredevils of Europe's skies: pilots
    who swoop through blinding smoke, soaring flames and bone-jarring
    turbulence to drop water onto summer wildfires that rip through
    parched forests.
    On Thursday, the pilots of France's fleet of Canadair
    water-dumping planes will return to the skies after a 10-day
    grounding at the height of fire season - restoring firefighters
    with one of their most powerful weapons.
    The planes were grounded Aug. 1 when two Canadair CL 415 pilots
    plunged to their deaths on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
    Though the cause of the crash is still not clear, safety experts
    have checked all 10 remaining planes in the fleet and pronounced
    them fit to fly, the Interior Ministry said in a statement
    Wednesday.
    The temporary loss of the Canadairs put extra pressure on
    firefighters on the ground. The Canadair fleet is the main airborne
    firefighting force in France. Without them, firefighters were left
    with just water-carrying helicopters and other planes that are best
    suited to combatting small fires.
    This weekend, French authorities brought in more than 1,000
    firefighters and 250 vehicles from around the country to help
    combat Mediterranean fires, said civil defense spokesman Lt. Col.
    Eric Soupra.
    Without the Canadairs to douse the flames, "fires are more
    virulent, and you need to take all possible security measures,"
    Soupra said in a telephone interview.
    In southern Europe, forests are too small and too populated to
    employ the North American technique of letting fires burn out
    naturally. Despite the massive efforts, fires burn throughout the
    summer here, sometimes spreading to homes, disrupting transport
    links and forcing the evacuations of people from houses and camp
    sites under threat.
    The European Union's head office said Wednesday that this year
    was on track for an increase in fires across Europe - comparable to
    the disastrous 2003 season. Then, 40 people were killed and 740,000
    hectares (1.8 million acres) - an area almost equivalent to Corsica
    - of forests burned.
    For firefighters, this summer has already been deadly.
    In Spain, which is suffering through the driest summer since
    record-keeping began in the 1940s, a blaze apparently sparked by a
    barbecue fire killed 11 firefighters last month.
    Also in Spain, the pilot of a small Polish-made Dromader M-18
    water-carrying plane crashed into trees Saturday as he attempted to
    douse a fire near the Portuguese border. His death, and the death
    of the two French pilots, has drawn attention to the daring flyers
    who risk their lives.
    France's Canadair pilots are the creme de la creme of aviation:
    Most are former fighter pilots, stunt flyers or members of the
    French aircraft carrier fleet.
    Ludovic Piasentin, one of the men killed in Corsica, was a
    former fighter pilot who had racked up more than 10,000 flight
    hours. His co-pilot, Jean-Louis de Benedict, was a longtime Air
    Force flight engineer who got his pilot's wings in 1995.
    Canadairs - squat, round-nosed planes that look something like a
    flying boat - fill their 6,137-liter (1,595-gallon) tanks by
    landing on lakes, oceans and rivers and scooping up water. Pilots
    make trips back and forth between the water source and the fires,
    dropping into heavy turbulence zones to douse the flames.
    "It's extremely violent, it takes place at low altitude, there
    is heavy turbulence and wind, the planes are put into complex
    situations," said Dominique Pipat, a filmmaker who spent three
    months preparing a documentary about the Canadair pilots.
    "It's serious piloting - they're not flying from point A to
    point B in a Boeing. ... They love the adrenaline. They're very
    humble about what they do."
    Piasentin and de Benedict were buried Friday. They were awarded
    posthumous Legion of Honor awards. Interior Minister Nicolas
    Sarkozy praised them as "the very definition of courage."

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Malaysia/Indonesia

    Malaysia seeks crisis talks over choking haze
    By Mark Bendeich
    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Malaysia sought crisis
    talks with its biggest neighbour on Thursday as Indonesian
    forest fires smothered peninsular Malaysia in a choking haze,
    threatening public health and raising fears for its economy.
    Much of peninsular Malaysia, including the capital, has
    been shrouded in thick smog for a week, presenting the country
    with its worst pollution crisis since 1997, when smoke mainly
    from Indonesian forest fires blocked out skies across Southeast
    Asia.
    Malaysia sent its environment and commodities ministers on
    Thursday to the Sumatran city of Medan where, according to
    Malaysian media, they were due to meet Indonesia's forestry
    minister and officials from its environment ministry.
    "I am going there to go on site and see what is happening,"
    Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin told
    Reuters by phone on Thursday as he prepared to fly to Sumatra.
    Fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is a short
    ferry-ride away from peninsular Malaysia's west coast, flare up
    around this time every year as farmers, plantation owners and
    miners burn forests to clear land during the dry season.
    Malaysia has offered to help Indonesia fight the fires, but
    Chin declined to say what it could realistically do to help
    solve the problem or what he hoped to achieve from the Medan
    talks.
    Malaysian companies own large tracts of oil-palm plantation
    in Sumatra. Asked if some of these might also be to blame for
    the fires, he added: "We will see what happens (during the
    visit)." In Indonesia, Malaysian-owned operations are often
    said to be behind the burning or to be turning a blind eye to
    it.
    TOURISTS SEEK REFUGE
    Haze from Indonesia has become an almost annual problm in
    Malaysia where it is often made worse by its own dry-season
    fires, but this time the smog has reached dangerous levels,
    according to health authorities.
    Asthma attacks have soared and tourists are holing up in
    their hotels or seeking refuge in air-conditioned shopping
    malls at one of the busiest times for the country's tourism
    industry.
    Schools in worst-affected areas are closed for the rest of
    the week and a major port operator on the west coast suspended
    operations on Wednesday evening. An airport on the outskirts of
    Kuala Lumpur was closed on Wednesday for five hours.
    A ship was reported to have run aground this week, and
    vessels plying the Strait of Malacca, one of the world's
    busiest sea lanes, are warned to take care because of poor
    visibility.
    The government has said it will declare an emergency if the
    pollution index hits 500, a level considered hazardous. Kuala
    Lumpur registered 181 on Wednesday, with Putrajaya, the
    administrative capital, at 224, and Port Klang at 410.
    Malaysia is starting to publish daily pollution
    measurements, reversing a 1997 decision to keep the figures
    secret out of fears this would scare off tourism, a major
    industry generating 29.65 billion ringgit ($7.92 billion) in
    income last year.
    The haze has hurt the local stock market, dragging down
    shares in the airport, airlines and tourism industries.
    ($1 3.746 Malaysian Ringgit)
    (Additional reporting by Jerry Norton in Jakarta)
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    Post Europe

    By CONSTANT BRAND
    Associated Press Writer
    BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Drought and human negligence are to
    blame for the recent rise in forest fires across Europe, the
    European Union's head office said Wednesday, warning the situation
    in southern Europe remained precarious.
    Officials and experts said recent years have seen an increase in
    forest fires in the Mediterranean region, especially in EU
    countries Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France.
    It said while 2004 saw a dip in fires, this year was on track
    for a dramatic increase across Europe, comparable to the disastrous
    2003 forest fire season, which saw 740,000 hectares (1,828,540
    acres) of forests burned to the ground and claimed the lives of 40
    people.
    "The situation in Portugal, Spain and also the south of France
    is pretty critical," said Paulo Barbosa, from the EU's Institute
    for Environment and Security. He said preliminary figures compiled
    from EU member states up to the end of July, showed that 20 people
    had died in some 70,000 forest fires.
    He said "only 10 to 15 percent (of fires) are started by
    natural causes," pointing to this summer's deadly blaze in Spain.
    Eleven firefighters trying to extinguish a forest fire sparked
    by a smoldering barbecue were killed last month in central Spain.
    That fire destroyed more than 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of
    pine forest and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from
    their villages in drought-stricken Spain.
    Spanish firefighters on Wednesday were battling a three-day-old
    wildfire in a national park in southern Spain, helped by
    water-dropping aircraft and firebreaks.
    Authorities estimate that the fire in the Sierra de Cazorla area
    of Jaen province - along with two others in the same region that
    have been brought under control - has burned some 4,000 hectares
    (9,900 acres) of woodland there. Some 1,000 people have been
    evacuated from the area as a precaution.
    In Portugal, where authorities reported no wildfires for the
    first time in 11 days as light rain and cooler temperatures settled
    over large parts of the country.
    Firefighters brought a three-day blaze in the Serra da Estrela
    National Park under control after nightfall Tuesday, the Civil
    Protection Service said. The fire was one of the worst in the
    history of the park, which was established in central Portugal
    almost 30 years ago.
    A heat wave during Portugal's worst drought on record brought a
    spate of summer forest blazes, which have killed two people,
    injured dozens and forced the temporary evacuation of hundreds from
    outlying villages.
    Environmental groups blame the fires on weak environmental
    education among rural communities and inadequate forest management
    policies.
    Police suspect many of the fires were set deliberately.
    Detectives have arrested more than 80 people this year on suspicion
    of starting wildfires.
    Barbosa said EU risk assessments, which are given on a daily
    basis to national forestry and civil protection services, showed
    that during a normal season the highest risk-countries in the
    Mediterranean area suffer some 60,000 fires per year, on average -
    between May and October. "More than 400,000 hectares (988,400
    acres) of forest burn in average every year," Barbosa said.
    Preliminary figures for this season assembled by the EU's
    so-called European Forest Fire Information System, EFFIS, show that
    2005 will be a very bad year.
    Barbosa said by early July, some 76,000 hectares (187,796 acres)
    of forests were already damaged in Portugal, over 37,000 hectares
    (91,427 acres) in Spain, 14,000 hectares (34,594 acres) in Italy
    and 4,930 hectares (12,182 acres) in France.
    In its annual forest fire report for 2004, the EU said some
    129,600 hectares (320,242 acres) of forest land was burned in
    Portugal, 127,900 hectares (316,041 acres) in Spain, 55,000
    hectares (135,905 acres) in Italy, 10,500 hectares (25,946 acres)
    in France, and 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) in Greece.
    The EU's forest fire risk center assembles information from
    satellite images, and also takes into account drought conditions
    and weather forecasts.
    France and other countries in the region have already imposed
    strict restrictions on the use of water, and have also moved to
    tighten rules on the use of camp fires, barbecues and engines in
    risk areas.
    ---
    On the Net: http://inforest.jrc.it/effis/

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    Malaysia Chokes on Indonesia Forest Fires
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    MALAYSIA: August 11, 2005


    KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia choked on its worst pollution crisis in eight years on Wednesday, as forest fires from neighbouring Indonesia smothered the capital in thick smoke, forcing schools, an airport and a port operator to shut down.


    Asthma attacks soared and tourists huddled in air-conditioned shopping malls at one of the busiest times for the country's tourism industry, prompting the government to consider emergency measures and to offer its neighbour help in fighting the fires.

    "The situation is not getting better, it is getting worse," Environment Minister Adenan Satem told a news conference.

    Adenan said after a cabinet meeting that discussed ways to clear the haze that he and the commodities minister would travel to the Indonesian capital Jakarta as soon as possible to offer Malaysia's help in response to a plea Indonesia made to ASEAN nations.

    The government would declare an emergency if the pollution index hit 500, a level considered hazardous, he said. Kuala Lumpur registered 181 on Wednesday, with Putrajaya, the administrative capital, at 224, and Port Klang at 410.

    Malaysia is starting to publish daily pollution measurements, reversing a 1997 decision to keep the figures secret.

    The API numbers have been kept secret in the past for fear of hurting the tourism industry. Former premier Mahathir Mohamad, whose administration kept the data secret, wore a face mask against the smog at a public function on Wednesday.

    In the capital, wisps of smog swirled around the gleaming Petronas Towers, occasionally hiding the iconic structures from people in the streets below, many of whom wore masks or held up handkerchiefs to block out the worst of the acrid smoke.

    "This is the worst thing in Malaysia," said a tourist from the United Arab Emirates accompanied by his wife and three daughters, who gave his name only as Ahmad. "We're concerned for our health...It's very bad."


    SHIP RUNS AGROUND

    Kuala Lumpur, swarming with big-spending Middle East tourists at this time of year, warned against traffic hazards after a ship ran aground at nearby Port Klang and prepared to declare an emergency in the worst-hit regions.

    An airport close to the capital shut down for five hours and a major port operator on the west coast, Northport, suspended operations from 0900 GMT. Schools in two badly hit towns near Kuala Lumpur were ordered to close for the rest of the week.

    The haze also crept into the stock market where shares in the country's main airports operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd , and in national carrier Malaysian Airline System Bhd fell 4.2 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

    Air purifiers were "selling like hot cakes", said Azmi, a doctor. A long queue of people waited to buy air ionisers and purifiers in a swanky shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, he said.

    Domestic media said the haze triggered a surge in respiratory diseases, almost doubling cases of asthma in some areas, and boosting breathing problems 60 percent elsewhere.

    "If the API exceeds 400 we want schools to close," Health Minister Chua Soi Lek told reporters. "We want people to cut down on outdoor activities. They must wear masks when outdoors."

    The US embassy ordered all employees working out-doors to wear masks. Motorists needed to switch on their headlights to be seen by other road users in the middle of the day.

    The haze has cut visibility in parts of the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest waterways, to about 1 km (0.6 miles), meteorological officials said.

    (Additional reporting by Jalil Hamid and Mark Bendeich)

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    Appeal from Malaysia goes out for Il-76 waterbombers
    http://www.vadscorner.com/internet67.html

    In 1997, during The HAZE last time, when MAFFs responded,
    two things happened:

    (a) the Russians offered to come out with IL-76s for the
    price of fuel alone - and were rejected; and

    (b) the National Guard, who responded with C-130s stated
    in a brief following the mission that planes with better dump
    capacity (IL-76s) should have been used.

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    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia and Malaysia agreed Thursday
    to release rain-inducing chemicals into clouds in a desperate
    attempt to extinguish forest fires that have shrouded the two
    nations in a choking haze, an official said.
    Indonesia's forestry minister held an emergency meeting with
    Malaysia's environment minister in the city of Medan to discuss
    hundreds of fires that have been burning out of control on
    Indonesia's Sumatra island for the last week.
    Winds have blown most of the thick white smoke across the narrow
    Strait of Malacca to Malaysia, which imposed a "haze emergency"
    Thursday in its biggest harbor and a tourist spot where air
    pollution exceeded hazardous levels.
    The haze has blanketed Kuala Lumpur and surrounding towns in a
    pall of noxious fumes, smelling of ash and coal, in the country's
    worst environmental crisis since 1997, sparking serious health
    concerns.
    The ministers agreed to try to douse flames by seeding clouds
    with chemicals in a bid to induce rain, said Koes Saparjadi, a
    senior official at Indonesia's Forestry Department. "But we still
    have not decided where or when the rain-making project will be
    implemented," he said.
    While cloud-seeding has its advocates, many scientists insist
    there is no solid evidence to show that it works.
    Many of the 300 fires in the Indonesian provinces of North
    Sumatra, Central Kalimantan and Riau have been set by farmers,
    plantation owners and miners trying to clear land, said Khairul
    Zaenal, a local forestry officer.
    Damage in Indonesian cities and towns was limited, he said,
    although haze covering large swathes of countryside has reached a
    dangerous level.
    Indonesia was struggling to battle the fires, and a clearly
    frustrated Malaysia offered to help. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad
    Badawi called Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on
    Wednesday, saying he was prepared to dispatch firefighters to the
    area if need be.
    Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, is 1,400
    kilometers (900 miles) northwest of Jakarta.

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    The question remains: Why, during The HAZE last time,
    did the international community reject the IL-76
    waterbombers and go with airplanes whose notoriously
    poor canopy penetration capability virtually assured mission
    failure....the admitting of which failure went on the
    National Guard record following the attempt.

    Was this all just for show?

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    Post August 21st

    By JOANA MATEUS
    Associated Press Writer
    LISBON, Portugal (AP)- Firefighting aircraft from Italy and
    Germany were due to arrive in Portugal later Monday after the
    Lisbon government said it could no longer control raging forest
    fires and appealed for help.
    On Sunday two Canadair water tank planes from France and one
    from Spain arrived in Portugal on Sunday afternoon to help fight
    more than 60 wildfires gripping the country from north to south,
    firefighters said. A third of these were burning in the northern
    districts of Viseu and Viana do Castelo.
    On Monday, a Canadair from Italy plus three helicopters from
    Germany with 25 anti-fire specialists aboard were expected to
    arrive in the fire stricken country to add to the international
    task force.
    On Saturday Portugal asked the European Union for help in
    fighting massive wildfires as the Interior ministry admitted it
    could no longer cope with dozens of blazes burning through forests
    and farmland without external help.
    Portugal's worst drought in years has helped the flames spread.
    So far, 11 firefighters and four civilians have been killed in this
    year's fires, while 50 houses have been destroyed.
    The most serious fire was in the Pampilhosa da Serra region, in
    the district of Coimbra, 196 kilometers (122 miles) north of
    Lisbon. Although the fire had seemingly been extinguished last
    Wednesday after burning for five days, the flames flared up again
    on Friday, forcing several villages to be evacuated.
    So far, 30,000 hectares (74,130 acres) of the region's 39,000
    hectares (96,369 acres) have been destroyed, and 200 firefighters,
    74 fire trucks and three firefighting planes and helicopters were
    battling the flames in the area. Fires were also ablaze in the
    districts of Aveiro, Braga, Braganca, Coimbra, Leiria, Porto,
    Santarem, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu.
    On Sunday President Jorge Sampaio asked all employers to release
    any employees who also work as firefighters so that they could help
    fight the blazes. "I appeal to all employers to release your
    firefighter employees to help fight this terrible tragedy," he
    said after attending a briefing at the Lisbon firefighters
    headquarters. "We have a vast corps of volunteers and we need them
    all on the field," Sampaio said.
    The President thanked the international community for the help
    that has been arriving in the country and also asked the Portuguese
    to unite in the face of a "demanding and difficult moment".
    Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Jose Socrates visited Pampilhosa
    da Serra and praised the firefighters.
    "This weekend has been extraordinary and the firefighters'
    effort has been extraordinary as well," Socrates said. "We need
    all the help we can get and France's help is already a great
    thing."
    The Prime Minister added a lot needed to be done to understand
    the causes of fires in Portugal. "Right now all we can do is fight
    the fires but we've got a lot of work to do afterwards because
    there are structural causes for fires in Portugal," he said. "The
    country cannot surrender to the notion that we have to go through
    this every year."
    In the Abrantes district, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north
    of Lisbon, several other fires forced villages to be evacuated and
    burned three houses, firefighters said.
    Altogether, some 3,401 firefighters, helped by 956 fire trucks,
    34 national aeroplanes and helicopters, and three foreign
    aeroplanes were fighting blazes in Portugal on Sunday. More than
    200 police officers also arrived in the fire-stricken areas in the
    country's northern and central regions to help evacuate villages,
    block or reopen roads and ensure access for fire trucks and
    ambulances.
    The Armed Forces were also contributing with 600 men to
    monitoring operations in areas where fires had been put out.
    High temperatures together with strong winds, which rekindled
    several fires on Saturday, were also forecast for the coming days.
    Temperatures were expected to reach highs of 36 degrees Celsius (96
    degrees Fahrenheit) in some districts, like Santarem, 78 kilometers
    (49 miles) north of Lisbon. The districts of Viana do Castelo,
    Braga, Porto, Braganca, Viseu, Aveiro, Coimbra, Leiria and Evora
    were at the highest possible risk for fires on Monday, weather
    services said.
    Portugal's summer wildfires have so far burned through 140,000
    hectares (345,940 acres), already more than the total area burned
    last year, officials said.
    Last year's fires burned 129,652 hectares (320,370 acres) and in
    2003 - the worst for wildfires in the last two decades - the blazes
    burned 425,000 hectares (1 million acres).

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    Post Spain August 21st

    MADRID, Spain (AP) - Officials in the northwestern Spanish
    province of Galicia on Sunday blamed arsonists for the outbreak of
    more than 180 forest fires that have raged in the region over the
    past two days.
    "Experts have informed us that over 95 percent of the fires
    active over this weekend have been started deliberately," Teresa
    Varela, press spokeswoman for the province's regional government,
    told The Associated Press.
    Varela said that 184 fires broke out on Saturday alone and that
    once extinguished, some fires flared up again in points very close
    to the original outbreaks. More than 20 fires were still burning
    Sunday.
    Almost all of the fires have been concentrated in two regions -
    Pentevedra and Ourense - whereas neighboring Lugo, which has
    extensive forests, is totally free of fire, said Varela.
    Conditions were so bad in some regions that counselor Alfredo
    Suarez Canal warned that "unscrupulous pyromaniacs" had made main
    roads dangerous for traffic due to the risk of fire and heavy
    smoke.
    One firefighter in the town of Xinzo de Limia was jailed
    Saturday pending trial on suspicion of deliberately starting a
    fire, Varela said.
    Galicia has lost 10,076 hectares (24,897 acres) of forest to
    fire so far this month in 1,692 fires, according to figures
    released by the department of environment of the province.
    The Civil Guard's Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) has
    detained 277 people this year on suspicion of deliberately starting
    fires in Spain, more than the total for the whole of last year,
    according to figures released by the service.
    A total of 95,000 hectares (234,745 acres) of forest have burned
    in Spain this year, killing 15 people and forcing 3,300 people to
    be evacuated from 850 homes.

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    Post August 21st

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Nearly all of the Indonesian brush
    fires that blanketed neighboring Malaysia with acrid, choking smoke
    have been put out, but underground fires are still burning in peat
    soil, Indonesia said.
    "All areas where the fire happened due to land clearing
    activities ... can be said to have already been extinguished,"
    private radio station El Shinta quoted Forestry Minister Malem
    Sambat Kaban as saying Sunday. "The number of hotspots there can
    be said to be zero - by ignoring five or six small ones."
    However, a local official said a sanctuary for tigers is
    threatened by underground fires still smoldering in peat lands in
    the same area where many of the brush fires had burned on
    Indonesia's Sumatra island.
    About 1,200 firefighters were trying to extinguish the
    underground blazes beneath about 20,000 hectares (49,420 acres) of
    peat lands in Rokan Hilir district of Riau province on Sumatra,
    said Chairul Zaenal of the local environmental controlling office
    in Riau's capital, Pekanbaru.
    Zaenal said the peat fires threaten a nearby 60,000-hectare
    (148,260-acre) conservation zone for Sumatran tigers, as well as a
    protected forest.
    The Indonesian brush fires - mostly set as a cheap but illegal
    way to clear land for plantations, mines and other operations -
    have cloaked large parts of Malaysia, including the main city of
    Kuala Lumpur, with a noxious haze, sometimes pushing the air
    pollution level into the hazardous range.
    The fires, often set during the area's annual mid-year dry
    season, have become a sensitive political issue between Indonesia
    and neighboring countries including Malaysia and Singapore, where
    haze from the fires has occasionally been blamed for annoyance, air
    traffic disruptions, health problems and damage to the crucial
    tourism industry.
    Officials in Indonesia - a vast archipelago struggling with
    poverty and corruption - often say they cannot halt the burning due
    to a lack of resources and personnel.
    "Demands of lands for new estates increases every year in both
    Riau and West Kalimantan provinces, but the commitment of our
    businessmen for environment is still low," Kaban told El Shinta.
    Indonesia has also claimed that Malaysian plantation owners were
    behind some of the fires, a claim Malaysia has denied.
    This year, Malaysia deployed 125 fire fighters to help fight the
    Sumatra blazes. Singapore has routinely helped out by providing
    Indonesia with satellite images of the affected areas.
    Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to lower the fire risk by
    starting cloud-seeding next week over Riau and North Sumatra
    provinces, both on Sumatra island, and in West Kalimantan on Borneo
    island.

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    Post August 22nd

    By JOANA MATEUS
    Associated Press Writer
    LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Wildfires fanned by high winds burned
    out of control Monday, destroying more than 10 houses on the
    outskirts of Portugal's third-largest city and forcing 50 people to
    leave their homes amid the country's worst drought in years.
    The government, no longer able to cope with the more than 25
    fires burning through forest and farmland, called on the European
    Union for help over the weekend.
    France dispatched two firefighting planes Sunday, and the Dutch
    air force was contributing with two Cougar helicopters, each
    capable of carrying 660 gallons of water.
    Spain also delivered a plane, and Italy was expected to send one
    Tuesday. Three helicopters from Germany would also join in the
    operations.
    Most of the fires burned in the northern districts of Viseu and
    Viana do Castelo. Coimbra, the country's third-largest city with
    nearly 110,000 people, was surrounded by two fire fronts,
    firefighters said.
    Flames and smoke could be seen from different parts of the city,
    located about 120 miles north of Lisbon, and the fire had already
    spread to a number of boroughs, firefighters said.
    More than 10 houses on Coimbra's outskirts were burned, and 50
    people had fled their homes, firefighters said. Seven planes were
    dumping water on the fires, but Mayor Carlos Encarnacao said it was
    still moving quickly.
    About 200 firefighters were battling another large fire in
    Abrantes in the district of Santarem, about 50 miles north of
    Lisbon. Traffic on one of the district's highways was disrupted by
    a blaze.
    Nearly 2,000 firefighters, supported by 795 fire trucks and 31
    aircraft, were involved in the nationwide effort.
    The army sent 600 men to monitor areas where fires had been
    extinguished, and civil protection workers stood by in case
    residents had to be evacuated.
    Strong winds rekindled several fires during the weekend, and
    more winds and high temperatures were forecast.
    Temperatures were expected to reach 96 degrees in some districts
    Monday. They were likely to begin dropping only on Wednesday, when
    there was also a chance of mild rain, forecasters said.
    The wildfires have burned through 346,000 acres, already more
    than the total area hit last year, when 320,000 acres were
    destroyed, officials said.
    In 2003 - the worst year in the last two decades - the blazes
    burned 1 million acres, causing losses of $1.4 billion. Portugal
    received $59 million in compensation from the Solidarity Fund that
    year.
    In neighboring Spain, the country's environment ministry said
    that 265,000 acres of forest had been destroyed in wildfires. More
    than 20 fires continued to burn in the northwestern region of
    Galicia, many of them believed to have been started intentionally,
    authorities said.

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    Post 8/23

    By JOANA MATEUS
    Associated Press Writer
    LISBON, Portugal (AP)- Lower temperatures and increased humidity
    on Tuesday helped firefighters contain about 20 of the 30 fires
    that have raged in Portugal, but the worst blaze continued to burn
    on the outskirts of the city of Coimbra, destroying some houses.
    Police, meanwhile, announced the arrests of four people on
    suspicion of arson, including one man who used to be a firefighter.
    The lighter used for setting the fires was also recovered. So far
    this year 102 people have been arrested for setting fires, police
    said.
    More than 300 firefighters were battling the blaze on the edges
    of Coimbra, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Lisbon, and
    three firefighting helicopters from Germany were flying in on
    Tuesday to help.
    That fire has scorched woodland since Sunday night. It moved
    into several suburbs of the city of more than 100,000 people on
    Monday and destroyed 10 houses. About 60 people were forced to
    evacuate, firefighters said.
    Twelve fires continued to burn throughout the country Tuesday,
    most of them in the northern districts of Viseu and Viana do
    Castelo.
    Altogether, 2,300 firefighters are fighting flames countrywide,
    supported by 659 fire trucks and 14 water-dumping aircraft sent
    from other European countries.
    About 600 members of the armed forces were also deployed to
    areas where fire has already been controlled to clear debris from
    roads and keep watch for new blazes.
    Weather services said many districts remained at "very high
    risk."
    Portugal has asked for help from the European Union. France sent
    two Canadair firefighting planes on Sunday and Spain sent one. The
    three helicopters from Germany and another Canadair from Italy were
    due to start firefighting operations Tuesday. The Dutch air force
    was contributing two Cougar firefighting helicopters.
    Despite the overnight drop in temperatures, Tuesday was expected
    to be hot and dry throughout the country with highs reaching 36
    degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) in some areas, weather services
    said. Temperatures were expected to drop slightly on Wednesday.
    Portugal's summer wildfires have so far burned through 140,000
    hectares (345,940 acres), more than the total area burned last
    year, officials said.
    The EU Commission's spokeswoman Paula Laissy on Monday said
    Portugal could seek disaster assistance from the European
    Solidarity Fund, but Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the
    situation did not yet require it.
    Member states can ask for compensation when losses surpass 0.6
    percent of the gross domestic product. In 2003, fires in Portugal
    caused losses of euro1.2 billion, and the country received euro48.5
    million in compensation from the Solidarity Fund.
    Last year's fires burned 129,652 hectares (320,370 acres) and in
    2003 - the worst for wildfires in the last two decades - the blazes
    burned 425,000 hectares (1 million acres).

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    Post August 24th

    By JOANA MATEUS
    Associated Press Writer
    LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Wildfires flared again around Portugal's
    third-largest city Wednesday, just hours after firefighters brought
    them under control after fighting a dozen blazes this week.
    More than 540 firefighters supported by 150 fire trucks and
    seven air tankers were battling blazes in the Coimbra district
    alone. They also were working in the central and northern districts
    of Porto, Santarem, Vila Real, Viseu.
    Four more people were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of arson -
    raising to 122 the number of people detained this year on suspicion
    of deliberately starting fires. Eighty people were arrested last
    year for arson in Portugal.
    Portugal has had little or no rain for 10 months, with at least
    75 percent of the country suffering through an extreme drought, the
    Water Institute said.
    After days of fires, a cooling fog and higher humidity helped
    firefighters bring the flames under control Wednesday before they
    flared up again, officials said.
    The fire has destroyed at least 10 houses in the suburbs of the
    city of Coimbra, about 120 miles north of Lisbon. About 50
    residents were evacuated from villages Tuesday night, officials
    said.
    Some residents were due to return to their homes, Coimbra's Gov.
    Henrique Fernandes said, but many will find a blackened landscape.
    More than 1,620 firefighters were involved in the effort, and
    about 600 members of the armed forces were deployed to areas where
    fires were under control.
    Several countries, including Spain, Germany, France and the
    Netherlands, sent pilots and equipment. Slovakia also said it was
    prepared to send a helicopter.
    In the Miranda do Corvo area of Coimbra, residents applauded as
    German helicopters helping to fight the blaze flew overhead,
    dousing flames with water, the Jornal de Noticias newspaper said.
    "As soon as they got here, they rolled up their sleeves and set
    up a communications room," Portuguese air force pilot Mario Marcao
    told the newspaper.
    Three French firefighters from a special natural disasters unit
    in Nice, France, cut short vacations to help out.
    Women walked long distances to bring drinking water, wine, juice
    and food to firefighters working days on end. Other residents
    helped by bringing crews buckets filled with water.
    Wildfires have killed 15 people, 11 of them firefighters, this
    year, burning through 445,000 acres, compared with 320,370 acres
    last year.
    Other parts of southern Europe also were ablaze. In Spain,
    enduring its driest year since keeping rainfall records in the
    1940s, dozens of fires were burning in the northwest Galicia region
    and other areas.
    Fires on the Mediterranean island of Corsica scorched 1,480
    acres of brush in July. Separate fires in France's southern
    Bouches-du-Rhone region destroyed more than 7,400 acres of brush
    and pine forest in July. August fires devastated about 1,700 acres
    of woodland in the Vars and Bouches-du-Rhone regions of
    southeastern France.

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    Default 2006

    Area size of New York City burnt in Spain fires
    By Jason Webb
    MADRID, Aug 16 (Reuters) - An area the size of New York City
    was destroyed in forest fires that raged across northwestern
    Spain this month, sparking accusations of political incompetence
    and organised arson, an official said on Wednesday.
    "A very large area has burnt, about 70,000 hectares," said
    Emilio Perez, the Galicia region's head of government, adding
    that many of the hundreds of fires were started on purpose.
    The area burnt became a political issue when Spain's
    conservative Popular Party opposition accused the local and
    national governments, which are both Socialist, of incompetence
    and disorganisation in fighting the fires.
    The Popular Party said it worked out from a NASA Internet
    page that 175,000 hectares had gone up in smoke.
    After an army-backed emergency effort including 7,000 fire
    fighters and planes dousing blazes with sea water, all but one
    fire had been extinguished by Wednesday.
    But the fires damaged Galicia's tourist economy during the
    year's busiest month, with beach goers coated in ashes and
    campers evacuated from tent sites or roped into fire fighting.
    Police have arrested 30 people for arson and authorities
    spoke of conspiracies by fire fighters seeking work and
    villagers exacting revenge on neighbours.
    One part-time fire fighter was caught in a wood carrying a
    can of petrol and 14 cigarette lighters. A newspaper published a
    photograph of tiny parachutes carrying firecrackers dropped onto
    trees.
    As suspicions spread, the strain told on some fire fighters.
    "It's sad you put out fires and they call you a pyromaniac.
    It's like blaming a doctor for murder," said one, Nacho Penela,
    speaking to El Pais newspaper.
    Summer fires are a recurring phenomenon in Spain, where an
    average 140,000 hectares burned every year from 1990 to 2004.
    People start almost all of them. But ecologists say the main
    problem is poor forest management in a depopulating countryside.
    Most Galician forests are small plots of pine and eucalyptus
    whose owners rarely bother to clear flammable undergrowth, said
    Felix Romero, of the World Wildlife Fund/Adena.
    "Galicia has to restructure its forest sector. Today,
    Galicia has a forest crisis," Romero said.
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    Default Spain--August 16th

    MADRID, Spain (AP) - Firefighters have extinguished all forest
    fires in Spain's northwestern Galicia region after nearly two weeks
    of blazes scorched tens of thousands of hectares (acres) of wood
    and scrubland, officials said Wednesday.
    A welcome light rain, meanwhile, fell on Galicia, a pristine
    region which lies on the Atlantic coast. But officials and
    ecologists expressed concern that heavier downfalls would cause
    erosion in now treeless land and send ash-laden runoff into the
    sea, damaging the region's lucrative fishing and seafood industry.
    Officials are also grappling with the estimated 10,000 cattle
    and horses that died or were injured in the fires, the worst in
    years in Spain's normally misty, green northwest corner.
    Preliminary estimates were that the fires burned 77,000 hectares
    of land (190,000 acres) from Aug. 4-15, with a margin of error of 5
    percent, said Alfredo Suarez Canal, the regional government's head
    of rural issues.
    That figure - slightly higher than one given earlier in the day
    by the regional president - is less than half the amount given by
    the conservative opposition Popular Party based on what it said
    were satellite images.
    The party has accused the regional government, run by the
    Socialist Party of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, of
    incompetence in dealing with the forest fires and called for a
    parliamentary probe.
    Crews put out the last blaze, near the town of Savinao in
    eastern Galicia, shortly before 9:30 a.m. (0730 GMT), two hours
    after it started, a rural environment department official said.
    Some 1,750 fires broke out in Galicia in the first two weeks of
    August, a figure authorities said was well above average. Four
    people have died.
    Cooler temperatures accompanied by light rains across the region
    helped the 8,000 firefighters, soldiers and volunteers crews
    extinguish the fires in recent days.
    Officials blame arsonists in most cases and 30 people have been
    arrested on suspicion of arson. Regional prosecutor Alvaro Garcia
    Ortiz said Monday that many factors cause people to start forest
    fires deliberately, including wanting to see land rezoned for new
    homes, turning forest into grazing land or sheer malice.
    Emilio Perez Tourino, president of the Galicia regional
    government, told Spanish National Radio on Wednesday that the fires
    had caused heavy environmental damage.

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    Default Sweden---August 16th

    STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Firefighters were battling a wildfire
    in northern Sweden on Wednesday that officials called the largest
    in the country's modern history, but no communities were
    threatened, authorities said.
    The fire broke out last week outside the drought-stricken town
    of Boden, 900 kilometers (560 miles) north of Stockholm, and has
    since grown to an area of 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres), said Leif
    Nordstrom, a spokesman for the local rescue services.
    About 40 people from six nearby villages have been evacuated,
    but no homes in the sparsely populated area were threatened,
    Nordstrom said. More than 60 firefighters and seven helicopters had
    been called in to battle the blaze, he said.
    He said the fire should be under control within the next few
    days, but that "it depends a lot on the weather and winds."

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    Default August 20th

    Greek firefighters battle forest fires amid heat wave
    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Firefighters battled blazes near Athens
    and in southern Greece on Sunday and a heat wave prompted
    authorities to issue fire and public health warnings.
    Temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) and
    were expected to stay high Monday.
    The Fire Service said it had controlled a blaze near Marathon,
    40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Athens.
    Two tanker aircraft dropping water were used to tackle a fire in
    the southern Greek Arcadia region.
    Municipal officials said dozens of air-conditioned sites, such
    as gymnasiums and clinics, were open for citizens seeking relief
    from the sweltering temperatures. In the capital, 26 such locations
    were available.
    The state electricity company, DEH, said it had bolstered the
    national grid to cope with heavy use of air conditioners.

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    Default Turkey --August 20th

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkish authorities battling forest fires
    on Sunday evacuated hundreds of panicked tourists touring the
    purported home of the Virgin Mary in the ancient ruins of Ephesus.
    The tourists were visiting the tiny stone home that is believed
    by some to be the home of Jesus' mother. Strong winds brought
    flames closer, forcing authorities to evacuate them by buses,
    authorities said. Some tourists left on foot, according to private
    CNN-Turk and NTV televisions.
    A local forestry official in the area said the flames were under
    control and were posing no threat to the house, which tradition
    holds to be the last earthly home of the Virgin Mary.
    Each year, tens of thousands tourists visit the house and light
    slim white candles placed in sand around the edge of the main room.
    The ruins of Ephesus are located on the Aegean Sea, in western
    Turkey.

    (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  25. #75
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    Default Greece August 21st

    Tourists evacuated as fire rages in northern Greece
    AP Photo ATH101-104
    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Hundreds of tourists and local residents
    were evacuated late Monday as a forest fire swept through resorts
    in northern Greece, destroying homes and cars.
    No injuries were reported as the fire burned out of control on
    several fronts on the three-fingered Halkidiki peninsula, at the
    resorts of Polychrono and Hanioti, authorities said.
    Local officials said there had been indications of arson.
    Tourists and residents were led to beaches in the area after
    homes, hotels and campsites were evacuated. Coast guard vessels
    were preparing to transport some of those evacuated to areas
    further away from the fire, authorities said.
    "This is a very difficult fire because it's in an inhabited
    area," Greek fire chief Andreas Kois told state-run NET
    television. "The winds are strong and conditions are bad."
    The fire broke out amid a heat wave across southeast Europe,
    with temperatures in some areas surpassing 100 degrees. Three other
    fires were reported in southern Greece and on the western island of
    Zakynthos.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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