1. #76
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    Default August 22nd

    KRIOPIGI, Greece (AP) - A wildfire raging in northern Greece has
    left dozens of people injured and forced several thousand others to
    flee hotels, holiday homes and campsites, authorities said Tuesday.
    The blaze was also linked to the death of a 41-year-old German
    man. Coroner Matthaios Tsoukas said he drowned after suffering
    heart problems while trying to board boats taking tourists who were
    stranded on beaches on the Halkidiki peninsula.
    At least 50 people - mostly Greeks - were hospitalized with
    breathing problems, and several people were being treated for
    burns.
    Officials said they are investigating whether arson was the
    cause of the blaze.
    "The damage in Halkidiki was great and the circumstances very
    difficult," Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said. "We
    express our regret for the death of the German tourist."
    Halkidiki governor Argyris Lafazanis said many tourists were
    being bused back to their hotels Tuesday after the fire receded
    from several resorts.
    Up to 1,000 British tourists fled the fire that tore through the
    resorts of Polychrono, Hanioti, Kriopigi and Pefkochori. Several
    hundred Germans, some 100 people from Scandinavian countries and
    about 100 Austrians also were involved in the evacuation.
    Romanian authorities said about 1,000 of their nationals were in
    Halkidiki but it was not clear how many were affected by the fire.
    Giorgos Kalatzis, minister for the administrative regions of
    Macedonia and Thrace, said conditions had improved Tuesday. "The
    firefighters are doing a good job," Kalatzis said.
    The blaze destroyed about 12,000 acres of forest, more than 50
    homes and dozens of cars, and left charred carcasses of farm
    animals strewn across blackened hillsides. Authorities declared a
    state of emergency late Monday.
    Ten water-bombing planes and helicopters assisted more than 300
    firefighters and soldiers, amid temperatures reaching 104 degrees
    Fahrenheit.

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    Post August 23rd

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Tourists and residents began trickling
    back to the Halkidiki peninsula on Wednesday, after several days of
    fires blackened large parts of the seaside landscape and destroyed
    holiday homes.
    The three-day blaze tore through nearly 12,000 acres (5,000
    hectares) of forest and farmland and led to the death of a German
    tourist. Nearly 50 homes were destroyed by the blaze, which forced
    the temporary evacuation of several thousand people, including many
    tourists.
    Residents returned Wednesday to inspect damage to their houses
    on Halkidiki's Cassandra prong, still heavy with smoke.
    Firefighters were still working to fully contain the fire.
    Another forest fire was burning for a fourth day in the southern
    Laconia region. That blaze has damaged more than a dozen homes and
    destroyed 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of forest and agricultural
    land, including many olive groves.
    More than 200 firefighters, four water-dropping airplanes and a
    helicopter were deployed from Gytheio to Areopolis and points
    farther south.
    The situation was worsened by high winds, although these
    diminished Wednesday.
    A five-day heat wave that added to the tinderbox conditions also
    began to subside. Temperatures had reached as high as 42 degrees
    Celsius (107 Fahrenheit).
    Other fires on the island of Zakynthos and in Arcadia in
    southern Greece were contained.
    Some residents criticized authorities for what they said was a
    slow response to the blazes. One of the fires, in the rugged Mani
    region in southern Greece, cut off water and power supplies to many
    villages.
    David Wiles, a spokesman for Britain's Federation of Tour
    Operators, which had about 1,500 clients vacationing in Halkidiki,
    said tourists who had been temporarily evacuated were returning to
    hotels in that area and the situation there was returning to
    normal.
    Fire officials have not ruled out arson in the Halkidiki fire,
    but on Wednesday said a fierce storm was the probable cause.
    "There were very strong winds and lightening, but no rain.
    These conditions can cause the fire to spread at great speed and
    make it difficult to stop," Greek fire chief Andreas Kois said.

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    Post August 24, 2006

    Some fires subsiding, others rekindling in parts of Greece
    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A new forest fire raged early Thursday in
    southern Greece as stretched firefighting units tamed two major
    blazes that ravaged parts of the country.
    The new fire, near the town of Megalopoli in the Peloponnese,
    broke out late Wednesday and raged through fir forests on Mt
    Mainalo, fanned by strong winds.
    The Mainalo region - an environmentally fragile area - lies in
    rugged terrain far from the sea and difficult for water-dropping
    planes to reach.
    Two smaller fires in the Peloponnese were not threatening
    built-up areas, officials said.
    A major blaze that ravaged the southern province of Laconia was
    being brought under control Thursday, with six firefighting planes
    struggling against stiff winds that threatened to rekindle the
    blaze. Up to 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares) are believed to have
    been burnt in an area between Gytheio and Areopoli, while state NET
    television said hundreds of houses in several villages were
    destroyed.
    Five villages were evacuated, including local hotels, and the
    whole area suffered extensive power cuts because of fire damage
    sustained by the power network.
    In northern Greece, a huge fire that caused the temporary
    evacuation of thousands of residents and tourists was still raging
    in the area of Nea Skioni. Fires that devastated other parts of
    Halkidiki's Cassandra peninsula were mostly under control, although
    some minor has been reported.
    The Halkidiki fire caused the death of a German tourist and
    blackened up to 12,000 acres (4,800 hectares).
    Tourists were continuing to leave the area because of the fire,
    some by specially scheduled charter flights, although many others
    remained as the threat to humans subsided. Power was being restored
    to the region early Thursday.
    Stung by opposition Socialist criticism that its response to the
    crisis was inadequate and poorly prepared, the government has
    approved funds for quick payment of indemnities to those suffering
    losses in fire-ravaged areas. A panel of government experts was due
    to tour the charred Halkidiki region Thursday, and Interior
    Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said burnt areas would be urgently
    reforested and anti-flood measures stepped up.
    Experts say it could take up to 50 years to undo the damage from
    the Halkidiki blaze.

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    Post Indonesia 8/28/06

    Indonesia says to seed clouds to douse forest fires
    JAKARTA, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Indonesia will carry out cloud
    seeding this week to help extinguish forest fires, but plans to
    use cargo planes to drop water bombs on the flames have been
    ditched because of a lack of equipment, officials said on
    Monday.
    Indonesia has been under pressure from neighbours
    Singaporte and Malaysia to deal with recurring forest fores in
    Sumatra and Borneo that spread a thick haze across the region,
    deterring tourists and causing health problems.
    "Our target is that the hotspots could disappear by the 2nd
    (of September). If not all, at least the significant haze would
    not be there any more," Information Minister Sofyan Djalil told
    a news conference.
    A continuing flare-up in the fires in coming days could be
    embarrassing for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
    who is due to attend a summit in Singapore on Sept. 4.
    The island state near Sumatra frequently suffers from the
    haze caused by Indonesian forest fires.
    Research Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman told reporters cargo
    planes would start dropping salt to induce rain via
    cloud-seeding on Tuesday but a plan to bomb the hotspots with
    water had been shelved.
    "We have prepared 30 tonnes of salt. The areas which are
    difficult to reach via land will be dealt with from the sky. We
    will keep on doing until the clouds finish up," he said.
    On the water-bombing option, Kadiman said: "we don't have
    the equipment yet, so we'll use cloud seeding."
    Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie said last week that water
    bombs, each containing between 1,000 and 3,000 litres, would be
    dropped to complement artificial rain.
    On Monday, officials from regions where the smog originated
    said Singapore and Malaysia should help solve the problem
    because the countries benefited from Sumatra's thick
    rainforests.
    "Sumatra, which Singapore and Malaysia claim is exporting
    haze to them, is also exporting oxygen to them. Singapore and
    Malaysia should also bear the responsibility," said Zulkifli
    Nurdin, governor of Sumatra's Jambi province.
    While slash-and-burn land clearing is illegal in Indonesia,
    prosecutions take time and few have stuck.
    Sumatran authorities said more than 50 people were
    suspected of illegal forest burning in recent years and two had
    been jailed.
    However, critics say, the short jail terms had failed to
    act as a serious deterrent.
    Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told Reuters in an
    interview on Thursday that the fires would disappear in two
    years. His target is more optimistic than some other officials,
    who see the seasonal fires going on for years.



    REUTERS
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    Post 9/6/06

    VANCOUVER (CP) - The Tatoosh wildfire threatening Manning Park
    remained uncontained Monday but grew to about 4,200 hectares with
    an evacuation alert still in effect, a Forests Ministry spokeswoman
    said.
    The Tatoosh blaze, which began on the U.S. side of the border
    last month, has prompted officials to maintain an evacuation alert
    that was issued earlier for residents of Eastgate, Manning Park and
    the Pasayten River valley.
    The alert means residents in the area may remain in their homes
    but should be prepared to leave on short notice.
    All 37 structures within the Pasayten valley have protection in
    place, including pumps, hoses and sprinklers.
    Fire information office Donna McPherson said the fire had not
    moved much since Sunday and crews would continue to build fire
    control lines while aircraft dropped water on hot spots.
    The Border Lake fire, burning entirely on the Canadian side of
    the border, also grew little since Sunday and was estimated at
    about 1,700 hectares, said information officer Dale Bojahra.
    There is also an evacuation alert in effect for the Cathedral
    Park Lodge. The Border Lake fire is about six kilometres from the
    Tatoosh fire.
    The massive Tripod fire, burning on the U.S. side of the border,
    was estimated at about 66,000 hectares Monday but showed no
    significant growth over the weekend.
    It is burning about 30 kilometres southwest of Osoyoos.



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    Post Unprepared?

    Northern Sask. community not prepared for forest fires, minister
    says
    By Jennifer Graham
    REGINA (CP) - A community in Saskatchewan's far north that was
    threatened by forest fires hadn't done enough to prepare for such
    danger, the province's environment minister said Tuesday.
    John Nilson said the hamlet of Stony Rapids, near the Northwest
    Territories boundary, had not finished work on measures that could
    have protected it from a raging fire this summer.
    "Some of the mitigation factors, like setting up firebreaks and
    other things like that, they hadn't completed all that work," said
    Nilson, who has been fending off criticism his department
    mismanaged the crisis.
    "They were working on them."
    In June, nearly 800 residents from Stony Rapids and the nearby
    communities of Fond-du-Lac and Black Lake were forced from their
    homes.
    Stony Rapids was blanketed by thick smoke, but spared from the
    flames.
    Nilson said Stoney Rapids, which has a population of about 360
    people, hadn't done as many things to prepare as others communities
    had done.
    "Part of what happens is you develop a whole fire prevention
    plan," he said, acknowledging that the community and province work
    together on such a plan.
    "Most of the time it is the responsibility of the local
    community to do all the things they need to do. We will provide the
    overall professional advice and the assistance if it's needed."
    Saskatchewan Environment's policy is to let fires burn if they
    are more than 20 kilometres away from a community.
    Shifting winds sent the flames racing towards Stony Rapids and
    forced the evacuation.
    Saskatchewan Party environment critic Glen Hart, who visited the
    community, disagreed and blasted Nilson's comments as ludicrous.
    "It was only through the extraordinary efforts of the members
    of the community that the community was saved," Hart said.
    "I think it was prepared. They did have some fire breaks in
    place," he said.
    Community officials in Stony Rapids could not be reached for
    comment.
    Last week the hamlet demanded an inquiry into the fire.
    Nilson defended the policy, but said a review will be undertaken
    this fall, including allegations that the situation was
    mismanaged.
    The findings are to be made public before the end of January.


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    Unhappy 9/12/06

    China says forest fires kill 33 so far this year
    BEIJING, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Forest fires have killed 33
    people and destroyed 380,000 hectares (938,600 acres) of woods in
    China in the first eight months of the year, state media said, as
    the country battles prolonged drought in certain areas.
    Although the death toll was a third lower than the average
    for the same period over the last three years, more than double
    the area of forests was damaged by fire, Xinhua news agency said
    in a report.
    The vast majority of the fires were caused by human activity,
    Jia Zhibang, head of the State Forestry Administration, was
    quoted as telling a conference in northern Shanxi province.
    China's arid north, as well as the usually wetter northeast
    and southwest, have been battling abnormally dry conditions this
    year, affecting parts of even the normally lush tropical province
    of Yunnan.

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  8. #83
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    Post

    By Ahmad Pathoni
    JAKARTA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Indonesia on Wednesday urged
    airports in areas shrouded by thick smoke from forest fires to
    close if conditions made landings' hazardous, after a jet with
    more than 100 on board skidded off a runway in Borneo.
    The passenger jet operated by Mandala Airlines skidded off
    the runway upon landing amid thick haze in Indonesia's East
    Kalimantan province on Tuesday as fires spread choking haze to
    neighbouring Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.
    "We recommend that authorities determine minimal visibility
    standards in airports. If visibility is below the standards, an
    airport should be closed temporarily," said Setyo Raharjo, the
    chairman of the National Commission for Transport Safety.
    The current regulations allowed a pilot to decide whether
    it was safe enough to land, he told Reuters.
    Raharjo said haze had contributed to the mishap involving
    one of Mandala's Boeing 737-200 aircraft. No one was hurt after
    the jetliner skidded 50 metres (164 ft) off the runway in
    Tarakan.
    An air traffic controller at Cilik Riwut airport in Central
    Kalimantan said there had been some landing delays on
    Wednesday.
    "In the morning it is usually dark (with visibility) around
    400 metres (yards). It usually lasts until 2 pm (0700 GMT) when
    visibility rises to between 800 metres to 1 km," said Zamroni
    who, like many Indonesians, is known by one name.
    The haze, caused mostly by farmers and plantation owners
    setting fires to clear land, has forced many flights to be
    delayed or cancelled in Indonesia in recent days.
    MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE SHROUDED THIS WEEK
    South-southwesterly winds have blown smoke from fires in
    central and south Sumatra to Singapore and Malaysia, obscuring
    sunlight and reducing temperatures and visibility.
    The haze appeared to worsen in Malaysia on Wednesday, with
    pollution hitting unhealthy levels in more areas. The Borneo
    state of Sarawak, blanketed by smog for weeks, was the worst
    hit.
    "Today is the worst so far," said one resident in the
    Sarawak state capital Kuching. "Schools remain open but many
    people are already wearing face masks."
    At the daily 0300 GMT reading, the air-pollution index
    (API) showed "unhealthy" levels in most areas in Sarawak.
    Helicopter flights in the state have been stopped
    indefinitely because of poor visibility, news agency Bernama
    said. It also said the state government would distribute one
    million masks.
    Kuala Lumpur was also covered by haze with the API level
    rising to just below the "unhealthy" mark.
    Visibility at the capital's main airport fell to
    3,000-4,000 metres from the usual 10,000 metres, an airport
    official said.
    Singapore's Pollutants Standards Index hit the highest
    level this year on Monday at 73, but improved a day later and
    by Wednesday it had fallen to 52. A reading of up to 50 is
    considered healthy, 51-100 is moderate and 101-200 is
    unhealthy.
    Masud, an Indonesian forestry ministry spokesman, said most
    fires were in plantations and criticised local governments for
    not doing enough to stamp out land-clearing by burning.
    "Local governments only make noise after fires have become
    big and caused haze problems," he said.
    He said water bombs had been dropped from aircraft and
    hundreds of firefighters mobilised to extinguish the blazes.
    Environment ministry spokesman Hermono Sigit said about 600
    hotspots were identified this week in Sumatra and Borneo.
    The worst smog in the region hit in 1997-98, when drought
    caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon led to major
    Indonesian fires. The smoke spread to Singapore, Malaysia and
    south Thailand and cost $9 billion in damage to tourism,
    transport and farming.
    (Additional reporting by Sarah Webb in SINGAPORE, Jalil Hamid
    in KUALA LUMPUR and Diyan Jari in JAKARTA)
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    Post Australian firefighters spy on own firebugs

    CANBERRA, Oct 9 (Reuters) - As Australia braces for a
    scorching summer wildfire season, firefighters are being forced
    to spy on their own ranks amid suspicions one-in-five bushfires
    are lit by firefighters.
    Firebug suspects have been listed by police in New South
    Wales state, where wildfires have already destroyed homes
    during an unexpectedly hot early spring in which temperatures
    are already touching 30 degres Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
    The size of the state's 70,000-strong, mostly-volunteer,
    bushfire fighting service made checking the criminal records of
    all personnel almost impossible, police said.
    But state bushfire chief Phil Koperberg said commanders
    were watching up to 30 suspects for certain telltale signs.
    "You are not supposed to like going out firefighting,"
    Koperberg told Australian newspapers.
    In 2003 bushfires destroyed more than 600 houses in the
    Australian capital Canberra, while "Ash Wednesday" fires in
    1983 killed 75 people and left thousands homeless in the states
    of Victoria and South Australia.
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    Unhappy

    SINGAPORE, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Visibility plunged to 50
    metres in parts of Borneo island on Saturday and Singapore
    recorded its highest pollution reading in nearly a decade as
    fires in Indonesia sent acrid smoke across Southeast Asia.
    Singapore issued its first haze-related health warning this
    year. The daily air pollution index hit 128, the National
    Environment Agency said on its Web site (www.nea.gov.sg). A
    reading above 100 is rated unhealthy.
    In Central Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo,
    visibility in some places had plunged to 50 metres (165 ft)
    governor Agustin Teras Narang told Elshinta radio.
    Hundreds sought medical help for respiratory problems, with
    more than 500 fires counted from satellite images. Malaysia
    also reported unhealthy levels of smoke in many areas.
    Purwasto, head of forest fire control of Indonesia's
    environment ministry, said experts would go to Central
    Kalimantan on Sunday to assess the situation.
    "The worst situation is in Central Kalimantan now. Most
    areas in the province contain peat", he told Reuters. Peat can
    burn for years and produces thick smoke.
    "We cannot estimate the extent of the fires now."
    This year's worsening haze has rekindled memories of a
    choking cloud of smoke that covered large areas of Southeast
    Asia in 1997-98, sickening large numbers of people and costing
    local economies billions of dollars.
    The smoky haze occurs every year during the dry season on
    the Indonesian island of Sumatra as well across large parts of
    Indonesia's portion of Borneo, prompting protests from
    neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
    WAITING ON A WIND CHANGE
    "Frustration is an understatement," Malaysia's Environment
    Minister Azmi Khalid was quoted on Saturday as saying by the
    Star newspaper, as haze in Kuala Lumpur also hit unhealthy
    levels.
    Timber and oil palm plantation companies are accused of
    lighting fires to clear land for planting. But the fires
    sometimes get out of control and spread into forests or set
    large areas of peat on fire.
    Farmers, too, use slash-and-burn methods, a traditional
    practice magnified by a growing population, demand for land and
    vast areas of forest that have been cleared in recent decades.
    Air pollution in Malaysia's worst-hit area of Sri Aman in
    Sarawak improved to 131 from a very unhealthy level of 221 on
    Friday.
    Kuala Lumpur recorded a reading of 108 at 11 a.m. (0300
    GMT) but the Meteorological Services Department said there
    could be relief with a change in wind direction on Sunday.
    Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan said hospitals
    and clinics in the state were treating about 200 cases of
    respiratory illness daily, up from the normal 40 to 50 cases.
    Authorities have distributed more than 200,000 masks to the
    public.
    Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said on
    Saturday Southeast Asian countries must take concerted action
    to set up a sizeable fund to tackle the annual blazes.
    "The haze will recur during the dry season. It cannot be
    resolved by one government alone. For example, we cannot enter
    Indonesia without their consent.
    "They give a commitment but we believe that they lack the
    resources or have limited capacity," he said, adding there had
    been discussions on the joint fund but with no agreement.
    ASH RAINS DOWN
    In South Kalimantan, Indonesia's Antara news agency said
    smouldering ash from uncontrolled forest fires rained down on
    the town of Sampit for a second day on Friday, triggering
    fires.
    A spokeswoman for Singapore's National Environment Agency
    said Saturday's air pollution reading at 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) was
    the worst for a 24-hour period since 1997, when the index
    reached 138.
    "It appears that the wind direction for the next few days
    will be headed this way," the spokeswoman told Reuters.
    The agency said satellite pictures showed 506 hotspots and
    thick smoke haze in Sumatra, mainly in Riau, Jambi and South
    Sumatra.
    (Additional reporting by Telly Nathalia in Jakarta and Syed
    Azman in Kuala Lumpur)
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    Post Indonesia seeks help fighting fires polluting region

    By Ahmad Pathoni
    PEKANBARU, Indonesia, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Indonesia appealed
    for help on Friday to fight forest and brush fires that have
    spread choking smoke over much of Southeast Asia as environment
    ministers from five regional neighbours met for talks.
    The ministers from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand
    and Brunei were due to hold talks later on Friday in Pekanbaru,
    the capital of Riau province, an area of Sumatra island badly
    affected by the raging fires.
    Indonesia's neighbours have become increasingly frustrated
    over Jakarta's inability to deal with the annual dry season
    blazes, which in past weeks have caused serious air pollution
    across the region, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore.
    "We are asking for assistance in terms of equipment or
    expertise. We will see what they can offer to us," Indonesian
    Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban told reporters.
    Kaban said Indonesia expected its neighbours to recognise
    that the problem was not a simple one to fix.
    "That's why we will take them for a field trip on Saturday
    so that they can see for themselves the situation," he said.
    The fires, often started deliberately by farmers or big
    plantation businesses, have been burning for weeks in parts of
    Indonesia, creating a choking haze that has made many ill, shut
    airports and threatened wildlife in protected forests.
    Kaban said more than 75 percent of the fires were not in
    government-controlled forests but in plantations and farms
    belonging to private companies and local people.
    He said that Central Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of
    Borneo island was the worst hit, with around 1 million hectares
    (2.5 million acres) of peat land in one area affected. Peat
    fires are particularly hard to put out and can burn for months.
    "This is where most smoke came from," Kaban said.
    MASK-WEARING PROTESTERS
    Outside a hotel where senior officials were meeting to
    flesh out details for the ministerial meeting, about 20
    environmental activists in face masks held a protest over the
    fires.
    "Business people are receiving special treatment from the
    government while the people here and in neighbouring countries
    are suffering from the haze. This environmental disaster is an
    embarrassment for Indonesia," Johnny Mundong, head of the
    environmental group WALHI Riau, told Reuters.
    Visibility in some areas of Indonesia was cut to 30 metres
    (100 ft) last week, forcing cars to use headlights, although
    there was only a slight haze over Pekanbaru on Friday.
    Each dry season, fires are illegally lit to clear land for
    agriculture, blanketing Southeast Asia in smog.
    Kaban said efforts to induce rain by cloud seeding to
    contain the fires had been hampered by a lack of clouds.
    Under pressure from its neighbours, Indonesia said on
    Thursday it would ratify a Southeast Asian agreement that calls
    for regional cooperation to deal with the forest fires.
    The Association of South East Asian Nations approved the
    ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002, but
    Indonesia's parliament has yet to ratify it, angering countries
    affected by the smoke, known as haze in the region.
    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to use all
    resources available to put out the fires, including enlisting
    soldiers and police and leasing two Russian cargo aircraft that
    could each carry 40 tonnes of water to douse the flames.
    He has also apologised to its neighbours for the haze.
    Severe fires and smog during a drought in 1997-98 made many
    people ill across a wide area of Southeast Asia, cost local
    economies billions of dollars and badly hit the tourism and
    airline sectors.



    REUTERS
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    Post Croatia 2007

    ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - Residents joined hundreds of firefighters
    Monday to beat back a wildfire that threatened to consume the
    medieval city of Dubrovnik, a popular tourist destination famed for
    its churches, monasteries and palaces.
    Residents helped firefighters by carrying hoses and buckets of
    water to douse the flames that surrounded the historic southern
    coastal city. With the smoke thick and overpowering, many used
    handkerchiefs or shirts to cover their faces as they struggled to
    keep the fire at bay.
    The effort helped avert a disaster for Dubrovnik - known as the
    "pearl of the Adriatic" - during the height of summer holiday
    season. Most tourists were not affected by the fire because the
    majority of hotels are situated along the coast.
    Paramedics were seen attending to a number of firefighters at
    the scene, but it was not immediately clear how many people were
    treated.
    Strong winds helped the flames spread swiftly through the woods
    outside Dubrovnik on Sunday. The line of fire above the city was
    about 13 miles long at one point.
    Officials prepared shelters in an ancient fortress and sports
    hall in the city in case the fire spread and required its
    evacuation - scenes reminiscent of the 1991 Croatian war, when the
    city was bombarded by Serb rebels.
    Dubrovnik, founded in the seventh century, has been on UNESCO's
    list of protected world cultural heritage sites since the 1960s.
    The city is cherished for the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque
    architecture. Its walled Old Town dates back to the 13th century.
    Only one abandoned house in a Dubrovnik suburb burned down,
    officials said.

    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Greece August 17th

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A huge forest fire burned two dozen homes,
    animals and cars in the northern outskirts of Athens before
    firefighters extinquished most of it, officials said Friday.
    The fire Thursday also forced the evacuation of medical clinics
    and a summer camp. Gale force winds fanned on the flames on Mount
    Penteli, hampering firefighters and preventing water-dropping
    aircraft from reaching the scene for nearly two hours.
    More than 300 firemen, assisted by the aircraft and volunteers
    eventually extinguished the major fronts of the blaze and remained
    on alert in case winds rekindled it, a fire brigade spokeswoman
    said.
    The fire quickly swept through tinder-dry pine forest, burning
    at least 25 homes in the capital's affluent northern suburbs.
    Officials have yet to establish the cause of the blaze, but
    state NET television said experts were investigating residents'
    reports of arson.
    Many of the forest fires that strike Greece every summer are
    attributed to arsonists seeking to develop prime land.
    The full extent of the damage was still unclear Friday. The
    three affected districts - Nea Penteli, Melissia and Kifissia -
    were declared in a state of emergency.
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    Post Sad...very sad.

    ARTEMIDA, Greece (AP) - As the wall of flames swept through the
    heavily forested mountain toward her home, the mother of four was
    forced to make a life and death decision - should she flee?
    Athanasia Paraskevopoulou gathered her three daughters, aged 15,
    12 and 10, and her 5-year-old son and headed to the village square.
    Her husband was elsewhere and as the fire approached she bundled
    her children into a car.
    Firefighters later found their charred remains not far from
    Artemida, the village they fled Friday, the mother's arms wrapped
    tightly around her children. Their home survived virtually
    unscathed, but the family was among at least 63 victims claimed by
    Greece's worst wildfire disaster in memory.
    The 37-year-old teacher from Athens was enjoying the end of the
    summer holiday in the family's vacation home in this wooded
    mountain village near the sea when wildfires started breaking out
    across the Peloponnese peninsula Thursday - fires that have since
    swept over large swathes of the country and scorched world heritage
    sites such as Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games.
    The approaching wildfires struck fear among the 100 or so
    residents of the village of Artemida, nestled amid the olive groves
    that were its main source of income.
    "Everyone was in a panic. Within 10 minutes, the fire swept in
    from the east and was all around us, both above and below the
    village," said 37-year-old Lambrini Tzevelekou, a friend of
    Paraskevopoulou's. "They gathered everyone together in the square,
    Athanasia and her four children, along with two young foreign kids,
    two grandmothers and four other children, and all left together
    packed in cars."
    "It was horrible," said Tzevelekou's 15-year-old son, Ioannis.
    "The fire came over like a huge tide."
    The convoy of cars sped out of the village and when the vehicles
    reached a fork in the road, a decision was made to go down toward
    Zaharo - a town about six miles away.
    "There were two roads to choose from - there was no other
    alternative out of town. If you went down (the road), you died. If
    you went on the upper road, you lived," said village president
    Giorgos Korifas.
    According to residents and rescuers, the leading part of the
    convoy apparently crashed into a fire truck speeding toward the
    village. The truck overturned, blocking part of the road. With
    little visibility because of the smoke, the remainder of the convoy
    slammed into the wreckage and at least four cars burned. Those who
    survived the pileup, including Paraskevopoulou and her children,
    fled on foot.
    Firefighters later found the charred remains of the mother and
    children huddled on a hillside near the accident. Nine people died
    on that road and they were among 23 victims from the region around
    the village, the largest single group of dead from the wildfires.
    Another couple, 70-year-old Panagiotis Lambropoulos and his
    wife, were more fortunate.
    "I saw the flames about 150 meters away. We got in the car,
    drove about 10 meters, and then the flames suddenly grew huge," he
    said. "We abandoned the car and crawled through the woods, about
    400 meters, arm in arm so that if we died, we would die together."
    The couple managed to reach the upper road, and safety.
    If Paraskevopoulou had stayed at home, neighbors say the family
    would have survived.
    "Nothing would have happened to them. The few that stayed
    didn't get injured," said Vassiliki Tzevelekou, another neighbor.
    "The house has not suffered any damage, but it's better for the
    house to have been burnt than people."
    Lambrini Tzevelekou said her friend "was a very good woman.
    What has happened was so unlucky."
    The decision faced by Paraskevopoulou, to stay or go, was
    similar to that made by thousands of people trapped unaided in
    mountain villages. Although Greece has the largest fleet of
    firefighting planes in Europe, its forces were stretched to the
    breaking point Friday, the day Paraskevopoulou died, as 124 fires
    raged around the country - many of them near Artemida.
    "It is incredible that villagers should abandon their homes by
    road in convoys without a fire truck to open the way for them,
    allowing an accident to cause the tragic losses we saw, said Nikos
    Bokaris, head of the Panhellenic Union of Forestry Experts. "I
    believe these deaths were due to criminal errors and ignorance of
    the danger and the circumstances of the blaze."
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    Post August 27th

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Firefighters sent helicopters and buses to
    evacuate more than two dozen villages threatened by towering walls
    of flames that have left 63 people dead in Greece's worst wildfire
    disaster in memory.
    From the northern border with Albania to the southern island of
    Crete, fires ravaged forests and farmland. Residents used garden
    hoses, buckets, tin cans and branches in desperate - and sometimes
    futile - attempts to save their homes and livelihoods.
    In some villages, firefighters sent helicopters or vehicles to
    evacuate the residents, only to find people insisting on staying to
    fight the blaze.
    A helicopter airlifted five people to safety Monday from the
    village of Prasidaki in southern Greece, fire department spokesman
    Yiannis Stamoulis said. Another was sent to the village of Frixa,
    but the residents refused to leave, he said.
    The destruction was so extensive that authorities said they had
    no way of knowing how much has burned - or how many people had been
    injured.
    Fueled by strong, hot winds and parched grass and trees, the
    fires have engulfed villages, forests and farmland, and scorched
    woodland around Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic
    games. New blazes broke out faster than others could be brought
    under control, leaving behind a devastated landscape of blackened
    tree trunks, gutted houses and charred animal carcasses.
    The destruction and deaths have infuriated Greeks - already
    stunned by deadly forest fires in June and July - and appears
    likely to dominate political debate before early general elections
    scheduled for Sept. 16. Many blamed the government for failing to
    respond quickly enough.
    The government - which declared a state of emergency over the
    weekend - said arson might have been the cause, and several people
    have been arrested. A prosecutor on Monday ordered an investigation
    into whether arson attacks could come under Greece's anti-terrorism
    and organized crime laws.
    On Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said it could not
    be coincidence that so many fires broke out simultaneously in so
    many areas of the country.
    In the past, unscrupulous land developers have been blamed for
    setting fires in an attempt to circumvent laws that do not allow
    construction on forest land. Greece has no land registry, so once a
    region has been burned, there is no definitive proof of whether it
    was initially forest, farm or field.
    "It is rather late now, but the state should designate these
    areas to be immediately reforested, map them and complete the
    forest registry without further delay," said Yiannis Revythis,
    chairman of the association of Athens real estate agents. "If an
    area is officially designated as forest land, who will burn it as
    it will still count as forest land?"
    But it was in no way clear who - if anyone - was responsible for
    the massive fires that have destroyed much of Greece over the past
    four days.
    "I think it is unlikely that land development was an incentive
    behind the arson," said Nikos Bokaris, head of the Panhellenic
    Union of Forestry Experts. "The afflicted areas are not prime
    targets for construction. These are mountain areas where land is
    not that valuable."
    Across the country, scenes of devastation unfolded.
    A woman killed on Friday, her charred body found with her arms
    around her four children, might have been safe if she had stayed in
    her home. It was the only house left untouched by the flames in the
    village of Artemida in the western Peloponnese. The house's white
    walls and red tile roof were unscathed, surrounded by blackened
    earth.
    Greece's few remaining patches of forest were being rapidly
    incinerated, and the environmental consequences will be dire,
    experts said.
    The worst of the fires are concentrated in the mountains of the
    Peloponnese in the south and on the island of Evia north of Athens.
    Strong winds blew smoke and ash over the capital.
    "This is an immense ecological disaster," said Theodota
    Nantsou, WWF Greece Conservation Manager. "We had an explosive
    mixture of very adverse weather conditions, tinder-dry forests - to
    an extent not seen for many years - combined with the wild winds of
    the past two weeks. It's a recipe to burn the whole country."
    Borakis said authorities would have to move quickly in order to
    avert further environmental problems.
    "Authorities will have to take measures to forestall ground
    erosion," he said. "Luckily, in the broader area there are no
    large cities that will bear the brunt of floodwaters from the
    mountains. There will be more floods, but the waters will be
    carried through the natural system of watercourses and ravines to
    the sea."
    The government appealed for help from abroad, and 19 countries
    were sending planes, helicopters and firefighters, including
    France, which dispatched four water-tanker planes, and Russia,
    which was sending three helicopters and an amphibian plane. The
    U.S. was discussing with the Greek government what form of
    assistance to send, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.
    Desperate residents called into television stations for help
    from a firefighting service already stretched to the limit.
    ---
    Associated Press writers John F.L. Ross in Artemida and Nicholas
    Paphitis in Athens contributed to this report.
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    Default August 28th

    Greece-Fires-Fact Sheet

    Fires still rage in Greece, sparking anger

    THE FIRES
    -- Broke out Thursday.
    -- Burned almost 500,000 acres in first 3 days.
    -- Northern border with Albania to southern island of Crete.
    -- Nationwide state of emergency declared Saturday.
    -- 410 million dollars for immediate relief.
    -- Tuesday: more wildfires broke out, others rekindled.

    THE TOLL
    -- At least 64 people dead.
    -- Vast stretches of Greek countryside charred.
    -- Villages and livestock destroyed.

    THE EFFORT
    -- Foreign firefighters and aircraft helping.
    -- Firefighters from 21 countries.
    -- Most foreign firefighters operating in the Peloponnese.

    THE ANGER
    -- Greeks furious after deadly forest fires in June and July.
    -- Accuse conservative government of inadequate effort.
    -- Many say response to latest crisis was disorganized.
    -- Government suggested possibility of arson.
    -- Fires dominating political debate ahead of September 16th
    elections.
    -- Athens newspaper: ballot will be "the elections of rage."

    THE OUTLOOK
    -- Fire department: "The picture we have gives us some
    optimism."
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    Post August 28th

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Foreign firefighters and aircraft joined
    in battling wildfires Tuesday that have burned nearly a
    half-million acres and killed 64 people in five days in what
    Greece's president called a "national catastrophe."
    The devastating blazes have infuriated Greeks - already stunned
    by deadly forest fires in June and July - and appear likely to
    dominate political debate before general elections scheduled for
    Sept. 16. Many blamed the conservative government for failing to
    respond quickly enough.
    Firefighters themselves have also come under criticism as
    disorganized and late to arrive. Some people also blamed a previous
    government's decision in 1998 to transfer responsibility for
    battling blazes from the forestry department to the national fire
    department.
    The country's worst fires in memory have burned olive groves,
    forests, orchards and homes, and the government budgeted upward of
    $410 million for immediate relief, although the bill was expected
    to be much higher, the Finance Ministry said.
    Southern Greece, where the flames reached the birthplace of the
    Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia, was the worst area affected,
    although one fire official said there were signs of optimism in the
    fight.
    New blazes broke out faster than others could be brought under
    control, leaving behind a landscape of blackened tree trunks,
    gutted houses and dead livestock.
    The mayor of Zaharo, in the western Peloponnese, said the body
    of a missing shepherd had been found Monday. Rescuers were still
    searching for another shepherd missing from the nearby village of
    Artemida, where 23 people, including a mother and her four
    children, died on Aug. 24.
    Some 56 new fires broke out Monday and Tuesday, the fire
    department said. The latest outbreak came outside Athens in
    Grammatiko, near ancient Marathon.
    "It is a national tragedy," said President Karolos Papoulias.
    "This is a national catastrophe."
    Firefighting efforts were concentrating on one front burning in
    the Seta area of Evia, and on the village of Matesi, near Zaharo in
    the western Peloponnese. Most of the firefighters who have arrived
    from 21 countries are operating in the Peloponnese, spokesman Nikos
    Diamandis said.
    A group of 55 Israeli firefighters were sent to one of the worst
    fires in Krestena, near Ancient Olympia. Parts of the
    2,800-year-old World Heritage site were burned over the weekend,
    although the ancient ruins and the museum were unscathed.
    By Tuesday, the site was open to visitors, and a few dozen
    tourists walked around the charred area.
    According to the European Commission's European Forest Fire
    Information System, 454,447 acres of forests, groves and scrubland
    were burned between Aug. 24-26.
    It also said that for this year's fire season to date, 664,020
    acres have burned. The previous worst year was 2000, when 358,231
    acres were blackened around Greece.
    Meanwhile, a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5
    struck the fire-ravaged area in the south, panicking residents, but
    there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
    Diamandis said 18 planes and 18 helicopters - including four
    from Switzerland - would be used in the southern firefighting
    effort.
    "The picture we have gives us some optimism" in the south,
    Diamandis said. "We have a good picture and hope for some good
    results."
    From the northern border with Albania to the southern island of
    Crete, fires ravaged forests and farms. Residents used garden
    hoses, buckets, tin cans and branches in desperate attempts to save
    their homes and livelihoods.
    "We have been destroyed, we have nothing left," cried Katerina
    Andonopoulou, a 76-year-old woman trudging from the edge of Ancient
    Olympia to her destroyed house in the nearby village of Platano
    laden with a bundle of leaves for the five surviving goats from her
    flock of 20. "Who will help us now?"
    In many villages, people refused to board helicopters sent to
    take them to safety.
    "We are asking people to be calm and to follow orders,"
    Diamandis said. Greece's civil defense agency said the fire threat
    remained high because of high winds and temperatures, especially in
    the Athens region.
    The government, which declared a state of emergency over the
    weekend, said arson might have been the cause of the fires, and
    several people have been arrested. A prosecutor on Monday ordered
    an investigation into whether arson attacks could come under
    Greece's anti-terrorism and organized crime laws.
    In the past, unscrupulous land developers have been blamed for
    setting fires to try to circumvent laws that do not allow
    construction on forest land.
    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said Saturday it could not be
    coincidence that so many fires broke out simultaneously in so many
    areas, implying that arsonists were at work.
    The main opposition Socialist Party leader George Papandreou
    accused the government of fabricating conspiracy theories about the
    fires and also said it was unable to protect lives and property.
    "Unfortunately, the government of Mr. Karamanlis has
    disappointed the Greek people. It has been woefully unable to deal
    with the major issue of the fires all summer," Papandreou said.
    Criticism also has arisen about a decision by a previous
    government in 1998 to change jurisdiction in fighting wildfires.
    "We used to have one service that fought the fires where they
    broke out, and a second that focused on protecting homes," said
    Nikos Bokaris, head of the Panhellenic Union of Forestry Experts.
    "Now there is nobody in the forests, and the fire brigades take up
    positions in village squares and streets."
    ---
    Associated Press writers Nicholas Paphitis and Patrick Quinn in
    Athens contributed to this report.
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    Post

    VICTORIA (CP) - Canada has five water bombers and three support
    aircraft ready to fly to Greece to help beat down the devastating
    wild fires that have killed scores and threatened ancient
    historical sites.
    "We received a request from the Greek embassy through our
    foreign affairs office Monday," said Tom Johnston, operations
    manager of the Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg.
    Initially a number of land-based aircraft were offered up by
    provincial management agencies, but Greece is not set up for that
    kind of fire-fighting.
    A second call was put out for water-based bombers, which fill
    their tanks by skimming across a lake or the sea.
    "We've had responses from British Columbia, Alberta and
    Manitoba indicating their skimmer operations could be made
    available," Johnston said.
    British Columbia has offered one of two giant Martin Mars
    bombers, which are Second World War-vintage flying boats under
    private ownership. As well, a "bird dog" spotter plane and an air
    attack officer to lead the operations are available.
    Alberta and Manitoba have each offered a pair of Canadair
    CL-215s, plus spotters planes and air attack personnel.
    "These packages have been put together and sent to foreign
    affairs," Johnston said late Tuesday.
    If the offer is accepted, it would mean long flights for the
    planes and crews.
    "They'd have to go through Newfoundland, probably jump off at
    Gander, I'm assuming, to Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles and
    then down into Greece through Europe," he said, estimating that it
    would take at least three days of flight time, plus several days
    preparation prior to departure and time to set up once they
    arrive.
    "Could be four, five or six days before they're ready to go to
    work."
    Johnston said Canadian teams regularly go to the United States,
    and have been sent to South America and even the Galapagos Islands
    in the past.
    He was not aware of any previous requests from Europe.
    And if the request had come at the height of the Canadian summer
    season, it would likely not have been possible. But the end of the
    forest fire season is approaching.
    "It's a little more acceptable to allow our big assets to go on
    an international front, but even so, we aren't at the end of our
    season yet," he said, adding that southcentral B.C. is still hot
    and dry, as is southwestern Alberta.
    Johnston said he hoped to hear back on the package offer as
    quickly as possible.
    "Obviously time is of the essence."
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    Post Croatia Firefighters

    Six firemen die in Croatian island blaze
    ZAGREB, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Six Croatian firemen died and
    seven others were injured while fighting a huge blaze on an
    uninhabited island in the central Adriatic, police said on
    Friday.
    They said in a statement carried by state news agency Hina
    that the fire started in a bay on the Kornat island, which is
    part of the picturesque Kornati archipelago national park.
    The archipelago is largely uninhabited but its scenic beauty
    and crystal-clear sea draws hundreds of tourists and yachts
    every summer.
    The Jutarnji List daily said the firemen were trapped on a
    high ground when strong sudden winds changed direction. The six
    died on the spot and seven others were taken to hospital with
    various degrees of burns.
    Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who visited the injured firemen
    in hospital in Zadar called for an investigation to determine if
    the fire was deliberate. Police said that eight people have been
    detained for questioning on suspicion of arson.
    "At first I could not believe the news of this tragedy. This
    is beyond words," Sanader said.
    Forest fires killed 63 people in Greece and left thousands
    homeless.
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    Unhappy

    PYRGOS, Greece, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Greek villages on
    Thursday started burying relatives killed by forest fires that
    were still burning parts of the country for a sixth day as
    thousands rushed to collect damage compensation from banks.
    Police arrested 15 people suspected of fraudulently claiming
    the immediate 3,000 euros ($4,000) payment the government was
    handing out in the affected areas to try to show it was
    providing fast relief for the fires that have killed 63 people.
    Less than three weeks before a parliamentary election,
    critics accused the conservative government of responding
    chaotically to the fires and said its compensation system was
    open to widespread fraud and offended people's dignity.
    "This is far too easy and far too chaotic," said Gerasimos
    Paraskevopoulos, mayor of the town of Pyrgos in the southern
    Peloponnese, where hundreds crowded outside a bank. "The money
    should be distributed by local councils who know their
    citizens."
    Some people admitted they had come from as far away as
    Athens and Thessaloniki, about 600 km (370 miles) north.
    "Hundreds of Gypsies have come here who don't live here,"
    said Gerasimos Halilopoulos, a Roma from Pyrgos, told Reuters.
    "It is making my life difficult because I need the money."
    The system required filling out a simple form, to be checked
    later, to claim the cash and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
    said the simplified system was the right thing.
    "The order is 'move fast', without any delay. We're removing
    bureaucratic hurdles. Nothing should stand in the way of us
    doing our duty," he told a news briefing.

    ELECTIONS AHEAD
    Karamanlis's handling of the crisis could be crucial for his
    hopes for re-election on Sept. 16. In two days, 72.4 million
    euros were handed to about 20,000 people, the government said.
    A cartoon in the centre-right newspaper Kathimerini showed a
    helicopter flying over scorched countryside dropping banknotes
    from a water bucket while the pilot says: "Yes prime minister,
    as agreed, we're dropping 100-euro bills so the land will turn
    green again."
    Vast swaths of countryside have been burned and more than
    500 homes were razed in what have been Europe's most extensive
    wildfires in a decade, according to the European Space Agency.
    In the village of Anilio, hundreds gathered to bury a forest
    warden killed trying to save a mother and her four children from
    the flames, only five days after he began the job. The woman was
    found dead, the bodies of her children in her arms.
    On Thursday 24 fires raged on, mainly in the western
    Peloponnese and the island of Evia, north of Athens, the fire
    brigade said.
    The government said the fires would cost Greece at least 1.2
    billion euros ($1.6 billion) but would not derail efforts to cut
    the budget. Athens said it planned to seek European Union
    emergency aid.
    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said
    Greece would not be left alone in its hour of need.
    "This is also a European disaster," he said in a statement.
    "At this sad time it is good to stress that solidarity is at the
    heart of European vision."
    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni thanked foreign ambassadors
    in Athens for their countries' firefighting help and said Greece
    would make sure Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic
    Games, which was licked by the flames, would be fully restored.
    The government has said arsonists started the fires and most
    Greeks believe rogue developers are burning forests to make way
    for new construction.
    "We are determined that not the smallest piece of land will
    not be reforested. Nobody will build on burnt land," Bakoyanni
    said.
    (Additional reporting by Robin Pomeroy and Michele Kambas)
    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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