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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

$20M Fine for Siberian Forest Fire


Correction appended

A young man who ignited a Siberian forest fire with a carelessly discarded cigarette butt has been ordered to pay an unheard-of 581 million rubles ($19.6 million) in damages.

Alexander Malkov, 21, threw a burning cigarette butt intodry grass near Klyuchi village in the republic of Buryatia in June 2009, said a spokesman for the republic’s prosecutor’s office.

"He saw that fire had spread tograss andtrees, but he did not take any measures toput out theflames andleft theburning area," theunidentified spokesman told RIA-Novosti.

Thedamage fromthe fire that consumed 2,000 hectares was assessed at581 million rubles —the amount of that a local court ordered Malkov to pay. Malkov was also ordered to fulfill ayear ofcommunity service.

Meanwhile, unseasonably warm weather andstrong winds inthe far eastern Primorye region prompted a warning Tuesday about a possible outbreak in forest fires.

"Dry andhot weather with wind gusts of17 meters per second are expected tosettle inthe south andwest ofthe Primorye region onApril 10 and11,” the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement carried by RIA-Novosti. “This may result inwildfires, which pose adanger ofspreading inresidential areas located near forests."

Theministry said five forest fires have been registered inthe region within thelast 24 hours, and three ofthem have been put out.

Last month, fires consumed thousands ofhectares ina federal nature reserve home torare Amur leopards.

Devastating forest and peat bog fires inthe summer of2010 put thecountry onedge after destroying homes and crops andkilling over 60 people. Smoke from the fires covered Moscow in a suffocating haze for weeks.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the fire caused by Alexander Malkov's cigarette had burned two hectares of forest. In fact, it burned 2,000 hectares.