Armenia / Russia – Firefighters who have been battling a wildfire in Armenia’s Khosrov forest reserve for days have succeeded in localizing the fire with help from a Russian air tanker, officials say.
The fire broke out on August 12 and has burned hundreds of hectares of vegetation since then.
One Defense Ministry helicopter had been fighting the blaze alone, but it received help when the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry dispatched a firefighting plane filled with tons of water on August 15.
The heavy-lifting Il-76 aircraft dumped 250 tons of water in six passes over the burning forest, the Russian ministry said.
Preliminary assessments found the fire, which spread quickly, has done considerable damage to the vegetation and wildlife in the reserve, Armenian Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan said.
Russian air tanker helps localize wildfire in Armenia nature reserve
MOSCOW, August 15. /TASS/. Major beds of wildfire in Armenia’s Khosrov Forest State Reserve have been localized thanks to an Ilyushin-76 aircraft of the Russian emergencies ministry, which dropped more than 250 tonnes of water in six takes, a spokesman for the Russian emergencies ministry told TASS on Tuesday.
“Thanks to the six flights performed by the Russian emergencies ministrys plane, major beds of fire in the reserve have been localized,” the spokesman said.
The aircraft with water dumping equipment was dispatched to Armenia on Monday at the request of Armenian colleagues requesting help in firefight efforts in the national park.
An Il-76 aircraft can dump 42 tonnes of water at a time, as well as create an 800-meter-long and 60-meter-wide fire break on a total area of about 50,000 square meters. Ilyushin-76 is rated among the biggest air tankers in the world. Such planes have been used in firefighting operations both in Russia and abroad.
“The crew of the emergencies ministrys Il-76 are trained for working in difficult conditions and have major experience in putting out wildfires. They have repeatedly taken part in operations to deal with emergency situations in Russia and abroad,” the Russian emergencies ministry said earlier.
A major fire broke out in Khosrov Forest, 61km south-east of Yerevan, on August 12. Hundreds of hectares are engulfed in blaze.
Ecologists assess damage from forest fire in Armenia
EREVAN, August 15. /TASS/. The Khosrov Forest state reserve in Armenia has been considerably damaged by the fire, according to Armenian ecologists.
Armenian Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan said that the fire “harmed both the flora – centennial trees – and the fauna” of the Khosrov Forest. “The fire covered a considerable part of the nature reserve, which, according to environmental assessments, is a great damage,” the minister stated.
Minasyan explained that the fire in the nature reserve “spread very quickly, and the taken measures were futile because of the landscape and dry hot weather.” The minister reiterated that it was forbidden to cut grass and set up fire barriers in the nature reserve. “In light of this, the environment that has formed there presents a great danger,” Minasyan said.
Director of the WWF -Armenia Karen Manvelyan, in his turn, said that, according to preliminary data, 2,733 hectares had been engulfed by the fire in the Khosrov Forest, 201 hectares of which are juniperic forests, 1,624 hectares are areas covered by grass and the rest is broad-leaved forests, the ecologist explained. The total area of juniperic forests in the Khosrov Forest is more than 800 hectares, he said. “The fire scorched through broad-leaved forests in which there were mostly oaks,” the ecologists said.
He hopes that “the broad-leaved forests will restore.”
The Armenian Nature Protection Ministry declared all volunteers who gathered in the Khosrov Forest to take part in the firefighting that the employees of this ministry and of the Emergencies Ministry “are coordinating and dispatching groups of volunteers to various parts of the nature reserve on the site.”.