Firemen spent four days battling a huge forest fire on the Curonian Spit. By the time the last smoldering embers were extinguished, some 250 hectares of forest had been devastated. "The firefighting operation is expected to be finished by the evening [May 5], but officers will stay," Rimantas Stanevicius, head of Klaipeda City Fire and Rescue Service, told the Baltic News Service. Some 500 people 's firemen from surrounding districts, servicemen, Environmental Protection Agency employees, foresters and local residents 's were deployed to fight the flames. Two Air Force helicopters with special water buckets and a helicopter from Latvia were also activated. The fire broke out during the afternoon of May 4, and was finally extinguished on May 9. In a few hours' time, 150 hectares of forest were already in flames. Energy supply to Neringa residents was temporarily terminated due to the fire. It was the largest fire in Smiltyne in recent years. A decade ago, 60 hectares of forest burned during a fire on the Curonian Spit. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Lithuania's mission in Iraq will continue for at least one more year, Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said. The LITCON-7 contingent is serving as a part of the Danish battalion in the U.S.-led international operation Iraqi Freedom. About 50 Lithuanian servicemen are deployed at the Danish battalion's camp DANEVANG in the Shaibah Logistics Base near Basra. The Danish battalion is part of the British multinational division. "We will stay in Iraq together with the allies, and plan our troops' service for another year," Kirkilas said. Lithuania's Parliament has sanctioned the participation of 420 servicemen and civil servants in international operations in the Balkan, Central and South Asian and Persian Gulf regions until the end of 2007. At the beginning of this year, Lithuania withdrew one of its contingents 's the 50-strong LITDET 's from the Polish-controlled sector in central Iraq and replaced it with three military instructors. Five shifts of LITDET had served in central Iraq since the middle of 2003.