Forest-ProtectionService Struggles to Fight Fires in Russia’s Omsk Region
BBC MonitoringInternational Reports, 8 May 2002
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 10:00 GMT, 8 May 02 Presenter — The Omsk Region fire service is voicing real concern at the growthin forest fires. Pilots are recording new fires every day, most often caused bytourists heading for the forests during the May holiday. Yelena Marinets reports from Omsk: Correspondent — The forest fire season is under way in Omsk. The Region hasn’thad warm weather for very long but even that short time has been enough for thethreat of fire to emerge. Fifty-six fires have already been recorded and 165 haof forest have been burnt. The forest-protection service has been forced tostart air patrols. The pilots say the situation is so tense that they areignoring small fires. The main thing is to prevent a major conflagration… Injust an hour in dry windy weather, a fire like this can double or treble in sizecorrespondent speaks near low flames that have blackened the surrounding area .However, it is difficult for the forest-protection service to respond promptly.There has been no new equipment in the past 20 years and pilots frequently lackeven the basic ability to contact local foresters. Their radios are hopelesslyout of date… Tourists are to blame for most of the fires at the moment. During the holidays,lots of people from the town have been on picnics in the countryside. Anothercause is that farms are burning last year’s stubble in the fields. If a fireisn’t watched, it can spread to the forests. The Podgorodskiy forestryenterprise has the greatest number of fires. It’s not far from the town and aplantation of pine trees burnt down here recently. The fire raged for a merethree hours but cost the enterprise half a million roubles. Even travelling to the forest by car is now banned in the Region, let alonebuilding bonfires. Nevertheless, the experts are forecasting a furtherdeterioration in the situation and particularly when fires start in the taiga.