Space satellite helps Belarusians fight forest fires

The fires have erupted earlier than usual this year. This is due to the unnatural spring drought in some parts of the country and the human factor. Southern Belarus suffers the most in this regard. We looked at what the forest looks like after the fire element.

The reasons are different – fire is one

The area of ​​the land fund of the State Forest Foundation “Malorita Forestry” is almost 76 thousand hectares, of which over 70 thousand are covered with forests. There have been five fires since the beginning of the year. The forest is often burned near settlements. One of the recent cases is the fire near the village of Struga. In less than half an hour, more than a hectare of green mountains burned here. Miraculously or accurately, the fire did not reach residential buildings by the ranger forces.

The head of the fire and chemical station, Vitaly Melnik, is a young specialist. He has been working in forestry for a little over two years, but he already knows first hand what a forest fire is and how difficult it is sometimes to deal with this fiery element.

– First of all – the human factor and the careless handling of fire. In such a drought, a lime match, a cigarette butt is enough. Some time ago, a forest burned down, the reason being the glass, which became an incendiary flashlight. – Someone could have thrown this bottle there a long time ago, but it worked now, – explains the expert, as we reach the village we need. – It happens that people try to put out the fire on their own, without counting their strengths. For example, dry vegetation is like gunpowder, fire spreads in all directions. The wind blew – it is no longer possible to easily stop the fire. Of course it is best to report fire immediately, even the slightest smoke in a forest area.

Vitaly Viktorovich remembers various cases of fires, having time not only to follow the road, but also to look around him again and again.

– Yes, it’s a habit. I make sure there is no smoke anywhere in the forest, – as if the interlocutor is reading my thoughts. – So once I was coming home from work, and suddenly on the right side there was a thin column of smoke. An ordinary person may not even notice it. The bilberry was burning, the fire was 1.5 meters. They reacted immediately and were quickly eliminated. Therefore, you must always be vigilant.

Hot hour of the ranger Kosynyuk

Pozhezhinskoye forestry forester Sergey Kosynyuk met the 33rd anniversary of his professional work. With a bag full of water in the back and a shovel in the hands. In southern Belarus, it is now, in the true sense of the word, a warm season. All forces are involved in extinguishing the fires. Of course, with the advent of modern technology, it has become much easier to do this than it was 15-20 years ago. For example, in the past, workers had to climb a 35-meter tower several times an hour to assess the situation, especially in times of fire. Surveillance is now carried out by a video surveillance camera installed in this very tower. Foresters must carefully monitor its data and not lose anything of their sight.

– The forester who was on duty noticed smoke on the camera near the village of Struga. They raised all the workers, as they say, with a gun. A signal was later received from the Ministry of Emergency Situations: the locals informed them about the fire. “We were already ready to move quickly to our place,” Sergei Sergeyevich said on the way to the burned forest. – There was a fire from the base in an area of ​​more than one hectare. There was no difficulty in extinguishing: from all sides it was possible to drive to the burning area and the plow. Two tractors with plows were working, our fire trucks and about twenty people. Fortunately, the fire was not allowed to spread.

The forest in front of us is like a black and white photo. In some trees there were no branches at all, under the feet instead of green – ash. The burnt part is separated from those that were not affected by protective strips dug up to the sand itself. Smoke that day covered the whole village, the wind speed reached 30 m / s.

– There is more bush vegetation here, but it was necessary to act with lightning speed, so that with such a wind the fire does not go further – in the territory of the village and in the dense forest. We have been dry for a long time. Please note: even the green grass does not have such a rich juicy color. It is as if it has been burned, something that only happens at the end of June, but not in May, – explains Sergei Kosinyuk and adds that it is extremely difficult to find the culprit in the fire: – If only with witnesses to catch by the hand. No one recognizes himself. Yes, it may not be a person at all: the tractor passed, a spark flew out of the exhaust pipe and fell. A second – and ignition.

village in the smoke

The main tool of forest rangers is a backpack sprayer, designed for 20 liters of water. Incidentally, a jet from such a fire extinguisher can hit up to five meters in length, so that the forester does not have to approach the fire. Then shovels are used, sharp as an ax. They can not only cover the flame with sand, but also cut branches to flood.

– Before we could put out this fire, we moved on to the next one. Extinguishing conditions there were much more difficult. The site was in a dense forest, an array of 50-year-old plantations on fire. There are no roads, they had to be cut especially for the plowing equipment to pass. Break the fire into pieces and cross it in half, says the forester. – After a fire, the condition of the plantations is usually assessed. If it is damaged to such an extent that the growth of the forest cluster stops, we carry out logging and cleaning. Next year we are already planting a new forest.

The ranger comes to the aid of village councils and agricultural organizations when fires break out on their land. According to Sergei Sergeyevich, it is not usual to divide the territory into “yours” and “ours”. After all, even a small fire on the edge of the field can lead to serious consequences if you do not respond in time. By the way, the help of the population in the fires is only welcome. It is true that such cases are extremely rare, usually the villagers are outside observers. Yes, and in the villages now live mainly retirees or summer residents.

– I live in Brest, but here is a Dhaka. Suddenly, the neighbors call, they say, the forest is burning. The next day I was able to come, there was no more smoke, but the smell of burning was still felt. And now the wind carries it, – says Valery Yakovlevich, whose house is a few steps away from the burned volume. – Well done foresters, they managed to put out the fire in time, otherwise it would not be my home.

The fact that real heroes work in the forest guard agrees with a local resident Katazhyna Romanyuk, in whose memory this is not the first fire. A woman tells how an eight-year-old grandson ran home with the words: “Grandma, a fire is burning in the forest”.

– We immediately called the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Here our forest rescuers arrived on time. The smoke covered the village very quickly. There was no breath in the house, things still smell of burning. It is true that the children worked well together, all the same experienced. People have been working in forestry for decades. They quickly managed to deal with the flames, he says and remembers the fire of 2019. – Then it was very scary that the fire would reach the house. They immediately started collecting documents, essential things. We sat in the car and waited: they would put out the fire or we would have to leave. Everything ended well.

– Yes, then there was a serious fire. In total, about 500 hectares of forest were burned in two days, – Sergey Kosynyuk participates in the debate. – On the first day it seemed that we erased it, we located it. In the second, a strong wind rose and started a fire in the crown. The flame was thrown into the street – more and more it sent its fiery greetings to nature. However, we managed to calm this element down.

I look away: the fires in our forests are watched from space

Since the beginning of 2022, more than six thousand natural fires have broken out across the country. According to Viktoria Demyanchik, Deputy Head of the Emergency Monitoring and Forecasting Department of the Republican Emergency Management and Response Center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, this is significantly higher than in the same period of 2021.

– There was a slight snow cover this year, especially in the south of the country. The snow melted early, people started their business: they started putting things in order on household plots and houses, including burning last year’s grass. This affected the sudden jump of fires in natural ecosystems. By the way, it is grass and shrubs that burn most often, he explains. More than 300 fires broke out in one day. Their rapid growth is accompanied by meteorological conditions.

One of the most effective ways to detect fires (especially in inaccessible and sparsely populated areas) is to monitor the area. In this matter, the ministry works closely with the National Academy of Sciences. Already 15 minutes after the flight of the satellite over the territory of our country, the Ministry of Emergency Situations has access to data on all the anomalies that have been identified.

– Every day, up to 26 times a day, from 11 spacecraft we receive information about hot spots where fires are possible. In 2022, according to space monitoring, 200 fires were detected, explains Viktoria Sergeevna. – This method allows you to detect a fire at an early stage, preventing its critical scale.

Space monitoring, according to the expert, is necessary to assess the threats coming from the neighboring areas of our country. In simple words, it immediately becomes known for all the fires that occur in the immediate vicinity of the Belarusian border.

– We see where the accumulation of heat points is, and we are preparing to eliminate the fire if it passes to us. Similar cases are recorded every year. For example, in the territories adjacent to our democracy, a fire can reach several hundred hectares, and in Belarus – only a couple, – explains Victoria Demyanchik. – We actively cooperate with foreign colleagues, especially with Russians. When we find out that a fire has broken out in their territory, we immediately transfer information to take measures to eliminate it.

More than 6,000 wildfires have been reported in Belarus since the beginning of the year. The main reason is still the human factor.

Marina VALAKH,

Photo by Vadim YAKUBONOK,

newspaper “7 Days” .- 0-

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