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Number of summer fires record high

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Prague, Sept 1 (CTK) – Firefighters had to assist in 5884 fires, in which 27 people died and 253 were injured, in the Czech Republic in July and August, which is the highest number in 20 years, Nicole Zaoralova, spokeswoman for the Czech fire corps general directorate, told CTK yesterday.
Fires of fields and forests were quite frequent due to the extreme drought in the country. However, fire caused the highest damage of 285 million crowns to a storage facility in Prague.
Up to 200 fires were reported a day in the summer, while the common average is 51.
July and August were among the warmest months in the past years and the heat was accompanied by a long drought, which led to many fires, Zaoralova said.
The most frequent cause of fire was a technical defect, mainly of an agricultural machine in a field during the harvest. The fire often spread from a field to a nearby forest, Zaoralova said.
People’s negligence has been the second most frequent cause of the summer fires, she said.
Forests were set on fire in particular by cigarette butts, fireplaces in the wild as well as by heated car exhaust pipes, Zaoralova added.
Field and forest fires were also the most extensive.
About 60 hectares of a forest and fields burnt down in the vicinity of Rakovnik, central Bohemia, in early August. Almost 50 firefighters units and a helicopter were fighting the flames, Zaoralova said.
Apart from professional firefighters, many volunteer units helped extinguish the summer fires in the field, she added.
The highest damage was probably caused by the fire of a large textile storage facility in a factory complex in Prague-Vysocany that erupted on August 22. According to the preliminary estimates, the damage caused to the stored goods amounted to 270 million crowns and that caused to the buildings was put at 15 million.
Experts have not found out the fire cause yet.
The fire following an explosion in the Unipetrol chemical holding’s plant in Litvinov, north Bohemia, in mid-August probably caused high damage, too, but the firm has not released its level yet. Both the police and firefighters are investigating the circumstances and cause of the accident.
($1=24.098 crowns)

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