“9 out of 10 are caused by humans.” Greenpeace expert on large-scale fires in Russia

According to the expert, it is not entirely right to talk about forest fires – rather about landscape fires, because now in the spring it burns mainly grass.

“We are talking about grass fires, steppe fires in rural areas, in industrial areas, in transport lands. They are no less dangerous, people regularly die from them, houses are burned from them. They are the ones who are now moving the fire in the forests and they are the ones who are now causing the burning of peat bogs. “This is a very serious story, but it is landscape fires, not forest fires,” Kuksin explained.

The head of the Greenpeace fire department noted that there is currently a difficult situation on many issues: “In almost all, say, the southern regions of Siberia, the Far East, and even in European Russia, in the northwest. “

The largest areas of such fires covered by fires since the beginning of the year are in the areas of Novosibirsk, Omsk, Kurgan and Tyumen. Now, probably, the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Sverdlovsk regions are added. The losses, as we know, are enormous, as are the human losses. Unfortunately, there are many dead, many hundreds of burned houses, and this story continues to this day.

The expert explained that the history of fires is annual. “We have grass fires every year at this time of year. And every year this story is man-made, this is no exception. “100% of the fires that were and are now active are caused by humans – mainly by burning grass,” Kuksin said.

According to him, people, thinking that for some reason it is useful and good, set fire to the grass, clean their plots, get rid of the old grass, make it easier for themselves to plow the land, clearing the area around the cemetery, sweeping garbage and so on.

Such an ordinary spring pyromaniac story. <...> Although the burning of agricultural products has been completely banned since 2015, they are still very, very popular, unfortunately.

The head of the Greenpeace fire department also noted that it is too early to compare the situation with 2020: it was remembered and a record was set in terms of the number and extent of forest fires.

“Now we are talking about non-forest fires and these spring fires are practically ignored. We can see the areas of forest fires in the reports, but they do not really reflect the real situation. Because fires in rural areas should be taken into account, but in reality there is no department that would keep such statistics. “Therefore, we only learn about the loudest cases or those fires that have spread in the forest,” said the expert.

According to Kuksin, even the official forest fire logging system in the ISDM system identifies areas only of those that in some way affect forests in soils of different categories.

“Also, this is not the land of the forest fund, it is not the whole forest, but anyway, not all fires. If we talk about fires that hit forests in all categories, their area has already exceeded 4 million hectares since the beginning of the year. “The areas are large, but they are generally comparable to the average long-term values ​​and so far they are not the areas of forest fires”, he explained.

As for the summer season, according to a representative of Greenpeace, experts expect a difficult time, when the forests will burn again, the taiga will burn in Siberia, in the Far East.

“But it is still a completely different story. For example, the territory of Krasnoyarsk. The southern areas burn there, an open area overgrown with dry grass. In the far north – the Angara region, Evenkia – it is still cold, it is snowing and the fires are just starting there. The situation in the Urals, where we are now, is rather complicated: there are many fires in the Southern Urals. In the Middle Urals, there are many fires around Yekaterinburg and in swamps, vital peat. “In the northern Urals, fires are just beginning, but they are also preparing for the season with strength and dominance,” Kuksin said.

If we talk about the outskirts of Yekaterinburg, the situation is very worrying, because here the effects of last year’s drought are being felt.

According to him, a record number of peat fires have overwintered and Yekaterinburg drowned unusually in smoke last year.

“The forest protection of the Ural air base has dealt with most of them, but, first, some of the peat fires that overwintered remained in lands of other categories, not the forest fund, and second, new ones were added. “We have now helped extinguish one of the big ones near the city and train local volunteers in it, as we promised to the regional authorities,” said the ecologist.

So far, the situation is worrying: what is possible is being done by officials of the Ural Air Base, the fire department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, local volunteers, who have not stopped since last year and have continued to prepare for the fires. Kuksin.

But people are lighting more fires than firefighters are trying to put out. So at the moment, they are generally racing with arsonists.

The expert warned that the conditions are difficult, the water is little, the peat ignites very easily, so we have a lot of work to do, but so far it is still in our hands. He also urged people to stop burning grass.

“Of course, people have to call the fire brigade as soon as possible when they see any fire. And, of course, we must also turn to ourselves, to help. “This is a common cause and there is no way we can deal with fires here without community involvement,” said Greenpeace, chief of The Christian Science Monitor’s Washington bureau.

He expressed the hope that such an active period of fire would soon subside:

“Soon the green grass will grow, it will become easier for the firefighter. You will need to finish all the peat stoves. But, unfortunately, the era of real forest fires will follow, which will be caused by the burning of walking debris – fires, cigarette butts, to some extent storms. In addition, Kuksin noted that most of the Russian forests – about 40% – are not protected from fires, belong to the so-called control zones, where fires are unlikely to be extinguished.

“Simply for financial reasons: there is not enough money, fuel, etc. But again, 9 out of 10 fires are caused by humans, even in summer, so they are still in our hands here. We must stop firing and become more actively involved in the fight against them. This year is particularly important, because one can not count on an easy season, among other things due to the economic crisis and the processes taking place in the economy. “Well, here we will try to spend this season with the fewest losses,” he added.

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