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Fires set off old landmines

Mon, 14th February '11


Alarming new research shows that wildfires can set off explosions when burning land planted with landmines, and can cause chemical or radioactive air pollution when burning land contaminated by mercury, radioactivity and depleted uranium ammunition.

These findings will be outlined Johann Goldammer, of the Global Fire Monitoring Centre in Germany, at the Wildfire 2011 conference in Sun City, South Africa in May.

The conference, to be held from May 9 – 13, is the hottest event on the international firefighting calendar. The theme this year will be “Living with Fire – Addressing Global Change through Integrated Fire Management.”

Goldammer’s research will also show how when people’s use of land either intensifies or diminishes, fires are often lit deliberately and can result in uncontrollable wildfires.  This was revealed by the fire emergencies in Bolivia and Russia in July-August 2010.

Goldammer will describe how wildfires burning on the edges of human settlements can affect the health and mortality of large numbers of people due to extreme air pollution.

The conference is organised by AfriFireNet, the sub-Saharan wildland fire network, and funded by the South African government. It has the backing of the United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of Wildfire 2011

For more information please call:
Evelyn John Holtzhausen on +27-(0) 82 658 6007
E-mail: evelyn@hwb.co.za
Media registration:  www.wildfire2011.org