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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Fires Claim More Than 200 Lives This Year

More than 200 people have died in fires in Moscow this year despite a sharp decrease in the number of blazes over the past eight months, the city’s top firefighter said Tuesday.

Moscow fire chief Leonid Korotchik said that 212 people died in fires from January to August, a figure " slightly higher" than the number of fire fatalities registered in the capital of 9 million people over the same period last year.

Korotchik said firefighters had fought 9,704 blazes from January through August this year, 1,208 less than in 1999.

In comparison, 93 people have died in some 75,000 fires in New York so far this year, according to Dave Billig, press officer for the New York City Fire Department.

New York has a population of about 8 million.

Korotchik credited a city government decision last year to lock cellars and basements for contributing to the drop in the number of fires.

Moscow ordered the lockdown after two apartment building blasts killed more than 200 people last fall.

The number of fires in basements and cellars has fallen for the first time in five years, Korotchik said.

But the fire chief also complained that he needed 20 more fire stations to comply with a federal regulation ordering firefighters to get to the scene of a fire within three minutes of being alerted.

He did not say how many stations the city has, and refused to say how long it now takes fire trucks to get to a blaze.

New York fire officials said their average response time last year was four minutes, 48 seconds.

Moscow fires killed 303 people in the first 11 months of 1999, according to fire officials.

Most of the 14,128 fires registered in Moscow from January to November 1999 were started by cigarettes, while electrical appliances and careless children came in second and third.