Russia to help Georgia fight forest fire near Borzhomi

Russia to help Georgia fight forest fire near Borzhomi

17 August 2006

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Russia/ Georgia — The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations will help Georgia fight a huge forest fire 45 kilometres of the town of Borzhomi on instruction from the Russian government, the ministry’ s press service told Itar-Tass.

A Russian air team consisting of an Il-76 anti-fire plane and a heavy Mi-26 helicopter will leave for Tbilisi and Kutaisi on Thursday. The aircraft’s water discharge units can carry 42 and 15 tons of water, respectively.

“The Georgian side has asked Russia for help in extinguishing forest fires,” the Russian Emergencies Ministry went on to say.

Georgia is ready to accept Russia’s assistance in fighting the worst forest fire in 25 years. It is raging on more than 500 hectares of woodland.

A high-ranking representative of Georgian Interior Ministry department for emergency situations said the Georgian side hadn’t asked Russia for assistance directly. However, it sent an aid request to the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response and Coordination Centre (EADRCC), which comprises NATO countries as well as Russia and other CIS states. The centre sent inquiries to its member countries and Russia replied it was ready to help Georgia.

In the meantime, some Russian regions are also fighting huge fires this year. Woodland fires have engulfed an area of 900 hectares in the southern Volgograd region, a duty officer at the Volgograd regional Emergencies Ministry department told Itar-Tass on Wednesday. He added local fire crews and forestry workers had failed to suppress the flame so far. Therefore, a helicopter equipped with a special water discharge unit has been called in from Rostov-on-Don.

Major-General Vladimir Sosnov, the head of the fire emergency centre and of the Emergencies Ministry branch for the Volgograd region, told Itar-Tass that despite the fact that vast areas were stricken by the fire, there was no threat to the local towns and villages and no need to evacuate the population. He added the situation was under control and there were no grounds for panic.

An emergency situation has been announced in Kandalaksha, the Murmansk region, because of four days of incessant forest fires, Itar-Tass reports from Murmansk.

According to Anatoly Sivaikin, the deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry branch, the fire has covered an area of 463 hectares of woodland in impassable areas. This makes fire suppression extremely difficult.


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