Multiple fires around Kyiv, Chornobyl pollute air, destroy nature

05 April 2020

Published by https://www.kyivpost.com

UKRAINE – Over 140 fires have broken out in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast over the last 12 days, greatly polluting the air in Ukraine’s capital, officials have reported.

The biggest fires are burning in the Chornobyl exclusion zone, where the firefighters are trying to put out 100 hectares of fire — about 180 soccer fields, according to Yegor Firsov, acting head of the State Environmental Inspection. Two firefighting planes and a helicopter have been dispatched to help extinguish the blaze there.

Background radiation levels remain within normal limits, but the smoke from fires — under conditions of high atmospheric pressure and slow wind — has greatly polluted the air around the Ukrainian capital, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

As of April 5, many districts of Kyiv have “very high” levels of pollution, according to CityScale, a service that collects and assesses the data from air pollution observation stations in Kyiv.

According to the State Emergency Service, poor air quality is mostly observed in the morning and gets better in the afternoon; the situation won’t change for at least “several days.”

In all 140 cases, fires were caused by human activity, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. People are burning waste, dry grass and leaves, eventually causing dangerous, uncontrollable fires, he said.

“They destroy wildlife habitats, pollute the air and reduce soil fertility,” the Kyiv City Council stated on April 4.

Overall, there have been over 800 fires of such type across Ukraine over the last 24 hours, including in Kirovohrad Oblast, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Mykolaiv Oblast and Poltava Oblast. In all, there have been more than 14,000 fires in Ukraine since the beginning of 2020.

“As it often happens now, first, someone sets fire to dry grass, and then it spreads to the trees,” Firsov from the State Environmental Inspection has said.

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