Forest fires in Russia’s Baikal region aregetting more threatening. Clairvoyants are asked for help with fireextinguishing.
When approaching the Russian city ofUlan-Ude, we saw one more forest fire just 100 meters from the highway. Mydaughter demanded that we must stop and extinguish it. We had no spade whichcould be very useful for the procedure. The girl said we would be able totrample the fire down. The darkness produced an illusion that the fire wasntas extensive as it was in fact, it seemed that it was even closer to us andwould cause no harm.
When we got back home to Irkutsk after theMay vacation, I had to admit that my daughter was partially right. Along a450-kilometer sector of the highway going from Ulan-Ude to Irkutsk, we saw manyforest fires here or there; unfortunately, the local population made no attemptsto extinguish the fire. There were just two boys near one of the villages whoattempted to tramp the fire down; it is unlikely that they could be a success,as the disaster was rather extensive. Other people behaved as if nothingextraordinary occurred at all: road police officers did their routine job ofcontrolling the traffic; women selling products on the roadsides stillcomplained the sale was poor, and so on. In a word, all of them were plungedinto their everyday business which they considered to be more important than thedevastating forest fires.
As if being perfectly aware of people’sindifference, the fires grew more angry and advanced to the territories whichthey had never touched before. Forrest territories hit with the fire haveincreased several times. The strong wind that blew in the regions on both sidesof the Baikal Lake made the forest fires even more devastating.
When the wind once dropped in the evening,fire brigades had a sigh of relief. But the whole of the city of Irkutsk wasenveloped with smoke next morning, as forest fires had surrounded the regionalcenter on all sides. The extension of the fire was so great that even wholesettlements and villages could be burnt down, the same way as village Borovoyhad been lost last summer. As for the forest fires in the Irkutsk region, therewas only one good piece of news about the whole of the incident. Wheninformation obtained with the satellite said that forest fires were threateningvillage Topka, an operational group left for the place immediately. The peoplewere surprised that the alarm was false and felt very happy.
Measures taken by authorities of the regionfor improving the fire situation are not quite adequate. A bit more than 100people have been mobilized for fire extinguishing operations in the Irkutskregion; the strength of such brigades in the republic of Buryatia is even less.It may sound strange, but there are people who say they are ready to do awaywith any fire for money. They are clairvoyants. These people, who say they arehaving extrasensory abilities, contact with editorial offices of localnewspapers and say they are ready to carry out the mission if they are paidabout 8,000 rubles (less than $300).
Why are ordinary people so indifferentto the problem of forest fires? It is quite clear that forests are no longertreated as the common property, as it used to be in the Soviet era. It sometimeshappens nowadays that people disforest vast territories without officialpermissions, illegally and then set fire to what remains after the illegalcutting. Do you think that villagers will risk their lives if they know that thefires were set especially to cover the criminal deeds?
It is not ruled out that the problem offire extinguishing is closely connected with money. Probably, if people werepaid for participation in brigades fighting the fires, they would be moreeffective. As Deputy Director of the administration in Cheremkhovsky districtGalina Vasilyeva says, the sum appropriated for fighting the forest fires in theregion makes up 30,000 rubles. The sum is obviously not enough.
In this sad situation, people are joking:they say let’s call clairvoyants, pay them and ask to help if other methodsprove ineffective in fighting the disaster.