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State Forestry Committee: Situation with wildfires in Ukraine difficult, but controlled

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Aug. 13, 2010, 2:35 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Over 22,000 firefighters, 1,500 observers, 6 helicopters were involved in protecting forests from fires in Ukraine

The situation with forest fires in Ukraine is difficult, but it cannot be compared with that seen in Russia, Chairman of the State Forestry Committee of Ukraine Mykola Shershun has said. "Thank God there's no comparison with the situation of our neighbors in Russia... but the current situation, without exaggeration, is too difficult," he said at a press conference in Kyiv on Friday.

Shershun noted that the most dangerous situations had been reported in Luhansk and Zaporizhia regions, where steppe land is burning on an area of 5-6 square kilometers.

He said that over 22,000 firefighters, 1,500 temporary observers, as well as six Mi-2 helicopters and six An-2 aircraft, were involved in protecting forests from fires in Ukraine.

He also said that the required funding for these measures was available.

Shershun noted that the State Forestry Committee was continuing to build CCTV towers to monitor forests.

He added that the government, while drafting the state budget for next year, would allocate the necessary funds to purchase an additional ten helicopters and implement programs for the construction of roads and reservoirs used to extinguish wildfires.

He also said that proposals in the legislation on toughening penalties for forest arson were currently being drawn up.

"We are drawing up proposals so that in September or October we're able to submit amendments to the law... We will significantly toughen the penalties, by at least ten times," Shershun said.

He also expressed concerns about possible delays in the payment of wages to forestry workers.
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