BELARUS/ LATVIA – MINSK (BelTA) – The Belarusian Emergencies Ministry helicopter dropped about 200 tonnes of water over forest fires in Latvia in one day, BelTA learned from the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry. On 27 July, Belarusian aviators worked for 9.5 hours battling Latvian wildfires. The helicopter performed 74 flights and dropped about 200 tonnes of water. Strong winds caused additional difficulties to the pilots of three helicopters from Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus.
According to the crews, if not for the help from air the wildfires would reach catastrophic dimension. Aviation chief of the Emergencies Ministry Tadeush Kursevich said: “Yesterday we started working at 8 a.m and finished at 9 p.m. The working conditions were difficult due to strong gusty winds, which created new hotbeds of fire. We received information that there was a new fire some 60km away. No progress would be made without aviation, because there are sites where you cannot get by land,” said Tadeush Kursevich.
As BelTA reported, on 26 July the Emergencies Ministry’s Mi-8 helicopter with six rescuers on board went to Latvia to help the country battle wildfires. The Mi-8 is equipped with a special water discharge devise and can take 2.5 tonnes of water from almost any water body. The Belarusian Emergencies Ministry has a wealth of experience in dousing forest fires in difficult circumstances. Belarus has been on firefighting missions in Turkey, Greece and Russia.
The fire on a peat bog in Talsi District began on 17 July. The blaze quickly reached forests. Taking part in firefighting are Belarus’ Mi-8 and two helicopters from Latvia and Lithuania.