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Thousands Of Firefighters Battle Flames In Central Russia

Russian Heat Wave Fans Fires
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WATCH: Deadly forest fires reached the outskirts of the city of Voronezh in central Russia on July 29, destroying private homes and forcing the evacuation of hospitals and tourist facilities.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry says a total of 238,000 firefighters are battling flames in 14 regions in the center of the country on July 31.

The ministry said the situation was under control and that those fighting the fires include 2,000 troops and are supported by 226 aircraft.

President Dmitry Medvedev called the fires "a natural disaster" in televised comments from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The number of deaths reported in the fires has risen to 31 as three more bodies were pulled from destroyed homes today.

compiled from agency reports