179 forest fires raging across Russia

Almost 180 forest fires are raging across Russia, head of the North Western Federal District Forest Department Andrei Karpilovich told a Monday press conference in St. Petersburg. "A total of 100 forest fires were put out on 17,300 hectares in Russia over the past day," he said, referring to data from regional forest authorities.

"In all, Russia has had 15,710 forest fires this season. The rate is practically unchanged since last year. The fires passed through 1.283 million hectares or 138,000 hectares less than last year," Karpilovich said. Eleven constituents of the Russian Federation announced fire emergency situations, he noted. The biggest number of wildfires was reported from Komi and the Arkhangelsk region, while the Kaliningrad region did not have any, he said.

In turn, Leningrad Regional Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Alexei Eglit said that the total number of wildfires in the Leningrad region had been declining over the past decade. "The human factor is always the main cause of forest fires. In the past four to five years people's awareness has grown. We have much less fires now than a decade ago," he said.

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