WESTERN WILDFIRES . . . RUSSIANS NOT ALLOWED TO HELP

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The Russians are ready, willing and able to help American firefighters contain 19 fires blazing out of control in eight Western states, but our bureaucracy won't let us accept their offer, U.S. government officials told TIME Daily. The Russians want to lend the U.S. a special aircraft that sprays retardant and snuffs out fires, the kind that has been used successfully in military depots in Armenia and Vladivostok, according to Itar-Tass, the Russian news agency. But "because of a lot of legal hoops we'd have to jump through, we're not going to take them up on this offer," says Pat Entwistle of the National Interagency Fire Center, which is is organizing the fire-fighting effort. Another source told the Associated Press that the goodwill gesture was turned down because local landing strips couldn't handle the large Russian aircraft. While the plane the Russians have offered is not unique -- the U.S. has 29 air tankers flying in the area now -- firefighters still could use the help, ad