World "We need people": Russian firefighters facing the Siberian fires

02:25  30 july  2021
02:25  30 july  2021 Source:   lepoint.fr

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  © AFP

F Ace with the vast fires ravaging the forests of the Siberian Republic of Iakoutie, Egor Zakharov and his team struggle tirelessly, but men are missing To cope with one of the worst seasons that the region experienced.

At the head of a forest protection brigade, Egor Zakharov and her men spent the evening patrolling a five-kilometer long trench they dug near the village of Bias-Kiouïol, to stop A fire that approached dangerously the area.

with masks against pensible smoke, men lit up rubber tires they suspended to sticks, then fixed on the arid floor of the forest on the other side of the trench, to start a controlled fire.

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The team does not even have more against how many fires they had to fight since the end of May - sometimes successfully and sometimes non - in Iakoutie, a sparsely populated region located in the extreme north of Eastern Siberia, facing a Very serious fire season.

"we held a zone for eight days but it burned in the end because the tractors have never been able to come to us," says Zakharov, adding that in this kind of situation they have More than digging trenches with shovels.

more than equipment, "We need people," he says, however.

aggravated by a heat wave, the forest fires have so far ravaged more than 1.5 million hectares of Taiga Iakoute. And the fire season still has to extend for more than a month in Siberia.

Limited manpower

In recent years, vast areas of Russia have been facing cafines and droughts caused by climate change, with numerous beaten temperature records in Moscow and elsewhere.

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in Iakoutie, the coldest region of Russia along the Arctic Ocean, the fires of Forests have reached a level as they have almost broke the protection air service.

with 250 full-time employees and 150 seasonal, who monitor fires from the air or who descend on the spot in parachute or truck, he is responsible for a territory representing almost five times the size of the France .

The objective, recognizes the Chief Pilot Sviatoslav Kolessov, is to turn off the fires entirely. But with limited workforce, which has suffered from budget cuts since the end of the USSR when the service had about 1,600 people, the task is often impossible to achieve.

Often, because of this lack of men, firefighters only intervene when the fires reach a size deemed sufficient, letting burn smaller fires.

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"And if the fire spreads rapidly and reaches a large area, then we are trying to save inhabited regions and strategic infrastructures," says Kolessov at AFP .

"Everything Burns"

Ecologists call into question the Russian Forest Fire Policy, including a Government Decree of 2015 authorizing local authorities to ignore fires if the cost to extinguish them exceeds the estimated damage.

"We have been saying for years that Russia has to multiply by at least three budget to fight forest fires," explains to GREENPEACE AFP Grigori KOUKSINE.

In early July, Moscow mobilized his rescuers and his army to help the Iakutie faced with the fires, while dozens of volunteers also joined the fight.

The lack of funds for the Air Protection Air Service, the only body fully responsible for combating such fires, is nevertheless obvious in the field.

"I lent most of my equipment to a team on a surrounding fire," says Egor Zakharov, who said he could not get a patrol quad only after multiple requests and criticisms of the authorities on the authorities slowness of his team.

"Our men have been working in the forest for a non-stop month. Anyone would be tired. From what right do they criticize?", He picks up, promising to continue despite everything.

After Bias-Kiouïol, his men will fight against the next fire, without any rest. "If we were not there, everything would burn," he says.

29/07/2021 22:03:54 - Bias-Kiouïol (Russia) (AFP) - © 2021 AFP

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