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Russian Fires Threaten To Stir Chornobyl Radiation

A helicopter carries water before releasing it over a forest fire in central Russia on August 10.
Wildfires are said to be threatening to stir radioactive particles left over from the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster back into the air over western Russia.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said at least six wildfires were spotted and extinguished this week in the Bryansk region.

That region is the part of Russia that suffered the most when the Chornobyl nuclear power plant's reactor No. 4 exploded, spewing radioactive clouds over much of western Soviet Union and northern Europe.

The ministry also had reported sporadic wildfires last week, but said all were put out.

Ministry spokeswoman Irina Yegorushkina said that radiation experts from Moscow determined there has been no increase in radiation levels in the Bryansk area, on the border of Belarus and Ukraine.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu acknowledged the danger last week, but said on August 11 that the situation was not as difficult as in the areas around Moscow, where clouds of smog from the fires have polluted the air.

Hundreds of wildfires sparked by the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia have engulfed large areas of western Russia.

compiled from agency reports