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Wildfires 'threaten Chernobyl fallout area'

Hundreds of wildfires burning across Russia could move into the areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and spread harmful radiation, environmental activists warned today.

Greenpeace said the 600 wildfires, sparked by the hottest summer ever registered in Russia, could engulf the regions still affected by radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

The Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in the western Bryansk region which suffered worst from the Chernobyl catastrophe in what is now Ukraine said today it spotted several wildfires in the area over the past few days and quickly put them out. It said it increased patrols to prevent more blazes.

Emergency officials say that about 165,000 people and 39 firefighting aircraft are battling blazes nationwide.