When is it hot? Why the fire near Ryazan was not immediately noticed

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Mikhailmeets his 33rd birthday in a forest near Ryazan. With a shovel in his hand, he, shrouded in smoke, walks between smoldering stumps and logs, throwing them with the soil dug out here — fortunately, there is light sand almost everywhere. 

«The holiday is either labor or sports, — the birthday man remarks philosophically. — I have a labor one».

Michael — firefighter paratrooper from Yoshkar-Ola, serves in the local branch of the FBU “Avialesookhrana”. Near Ryazan, he and his colleagues were sent to help extinguish the forest in these Yesenin places. Troopers of the Federal Aviation Forest Protection — this is a kind of fire special forces of the forest department: where it burns, they are transferred there. And Mikhail spends his birthday this way for the 13th year in a row. As he entered this service, he wanders through various burning forests. What to do if you were born on a date that coincides with the peak of the fire season, and chose this profession for yourself.

Photo: AiF/Igor Kharitonov

Smoke of anxiety

Smoke from a forest fire near Ryazan last week dragged Moscow, half of the Moscow region, the city of the Ryazan region and other regions of Central Russia. Everyone vividly remembered the nightmarish summer of 2010, when peat bogs burning in the east of the Moscow Region doomed millions of people to life in the dark. By Thursday, the direction of the wind had changed, the smoke in the capital cleared, but the fire on 6,000 hectares of forest — in fact, far from the largest — has become a federal issue. First, Chief of the Ministry of Emergency Situations Alexander Kurenkov flew to the extinguishing site, on Friday he was replaced by the head of Rosleskhoz Ivan Sovetnikov, all this time Acting Governor Pavel Malkov was at the scene of the emergency >.

“More or less seriously started to burn from last weekend, — said one of the participants in the extinguishing, an employee of the Ryazan Ministry of Emergency Situations. — Our “Please” worked, then we connected. They would have extinguished it little by little, but then on Wednesday someone posted a video of the fire on the Internet. And then it started spinning.

Smoke enveloped Moscow on Thursday, but the video was posted the day before, on Wednesday. The authorities of Moscow and the Moscow region immediately mobilized their firefighters, pulled up public utilities with tank trucks and set off to help the Ryazan residents in a large column, — just to keep the smoke out. Didn't have time for a day — the path is still not the closest. Four firefighting helicopters based in the Moscow region also went to the site, for them a landing site was equipped here with a refueling point, navigation and meteorological support. By Friday morning, the group of firefighters consisted of almost 400 people, provided with 135 units of a wide variety of equipment. Even more were those who ensured the security of settlements. Although there was no direct threat of the fire spreading to housing, there were columns of buses in places in case of evacuation, a gas service was on duty, everywhere there were city watering machines filled to capacity with water. Four Il-76 and Be-200 aircraft were placed in reserve. In general, the matter was taken seriously. And by the weekend, more than 800 people, who had three hundred pieces of equipment, and an air group of 11 aircraft and helicopters were already fighting the fire. Quite quickly they were able to limit the spread of fire from the south and east, but the northern and western edges of the flame did not give in. Heat, wind and traces of fires in 2010 interfered. Then a lot of forest burned out here too, and the logs lying on the ground, which have remained since then, have become very good fuel for the fire. 

Just for comparison. The area of ​​the Ryazan fire — 6 thousand hectares. The area of ​​fires in the forests of Yakutia last year — 3.5 million hectares. Then the smoke reached the Urals, Khakassia, Yamal, the Trans-Baikal Territory, the Irkutsk Region, Yugra, Sakhalin, northeast Kazakhstan and Alaska. The work of airports and ferry crossings was stopped. In Yakutsk, on August 12, 2021, air pollution exceeded the regulatory parameters by almost 250 times. At the same time, this time, not a single airport was closed due to smoke, despite the strength of the smoke, there were no reports of a multiple excess of the MPC.

Smoke from fires covers Moscow

Smoke from the Ryazan fires covered Moscow © AiF/Eduard Kudryavitsky

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Smoke from fires covers Moscow

Smoke from the Ryazan fires covered Moscow © AIF/Eduard Kudryavitsky

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Hot Pine Theory

An ordinary forest fire in 90% of cases — grassroots. It doesn't look very attractive — just a forest in which smoldering stumps and logs smoke here and there. You can walk on it in any durable shoes, without respirators and similar protective equipment. Sometimes the grass will flare up, some kind of branch. But basically it's just smoke, there is a lot of it, carried by the wind, it can envelop large areas. And the only way to deal with such burning — throw everything that smokes into the ground. That is, just go through the entire territory with shovels and, in fact, dig up. That is why it is so hard to put out peat fires — throwing combustible peat on the fire is useless. Here is — the main work of forest firefighters and firefighters-paratroopers of Avialesookhrana. If you still manage to dig a mineralized strip — a shallow trench half a meter wide — then the fire will not go anywhere, it will stop in front of it and will wait for its handful of sand from the forest firefighters who came to the rescue. 

Photo: AiF/Igor Kharitonov

You can also fill it with water, but there is not so much of it in the forest. You can’t bring more than 20 liters on yourself, a tank truck can drive far from everywhere, aviation — too expensive, and the volume of liquid in the belly of the aircraft, in the bucket under the helicopter — very scarce. So men in yellow-green overalls of regional divisions of the forest guard and the federal forest fire service are digging up the burning hectares of forest. 

In the area covered by such a fire, up to 10 percent of mature trees die. The rest, scorched in the lower part of the trunk, survive and grow further. For larches such a fire — a signal to drop more cones: the destroyed undergrowth no longer forms a shadow, and it will be easier for young shoots to break through in spring. So here is the evolutionary mechanism.

Another thing — top fire. With a strong wind, the fire rises along the trunks to the tops of the trees and the light show begins. In seconds, the flame can overcome hundreds of meters, jump over rivers and roads, red-hot pine cones scatter in all directions. Nothing can be done with such Armageddon with one shovel. This is where aircraft are needed that are capable of dropping several tons of water onto the edge of such a fire from above, knocking it down, transferring it back to the grassroots. And he will be finally defeated by the usual tool — shovels. But crown fires, fortunately, are rare. And by the way, they don't produce a lot of smoke.

Photo: AiF/Igor Kharitonov

According to the law, firefighters of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are responsible for settlements, roads, industrial enterprises — places where there are people. To work in the thicket, Rosleskhoz has its own very competent, although not so prominent specialists. And only in the event of a declaration of an emergency, the Ministry of Emergency Situations can advance from the border of the villages and go into the forest in order to “destroy the enemy on its territory.” Or send planes there for the same purpose.

Shy

They began to act according to the rules of emergency situations in the Ryazan region after the video was published on the Internet. Until that moment, the regional government reported that “everything is under control”, and for some reason no one noticed the spreading spot of the fire on the map of the Rosleskhoz remote monitoring information system (this is an open resource, available to everyone who is interested).

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"Most likely, the failure happened at the middle level of the regional government, — told aif.ru Head of Rosleskhoz Ivan Sovetnikov. — Some of the deputy ministers of the region or heads of departments did not want to report upstairs about the problem — either he was ashamed, or he was afraid of something. Because of this, we did not receive information in time and did not deploy our forces and means.

Extinguishing forest fires — responsibility of the region. According to Sovetnikov, they have all the resources to fight the “ordinary” fires. And here the case turned out to be more serious, for it it was necessary to use the federal reserve — it is, the area of ​​fires this year is a third of last year, so it would not be a problem to transfer several dozen specialists near Ryazan. However, time was lost and now hundreds of people are already fighting the fire.

What exactly prevented local officials from sounding the alarm in time, investigators will find out. A criminal case has already been opened on the fact of the fire and the violations committed during its extinguishing.

So far, it is believed that a dry thunderstorm was the cause of everything: this phenomenon was recorded by meteorologists, and the flames came from that part of the forest where there are practically no people can not be. However, this is only the version of the acting governor Pavel Malkov. Ivan Sovetnikov does not refute it, but suggests that we first finish the extinguishing, and then look for the culprits.

Fire fighting in the Ryazan region

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Extinguishing fires in the Ryazan region

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Photo: AiF/Igor Kharitonov

For the opposition such elections — often more of an opportunity to hype and declare oneself than an attempt to really come to power. In such a campaign wildfire — a perfectly fitting story. Yes, and in the information field, he surfaced only after two weeks of burning, on the eve of how smog covered Moscow. Any detailed weather forecast can foresee such a development of events.

On the other hand, if it were not for the publication of the video, the federal forest firefighters would not have arrived in the forest near Ryazan, the helicopters of the Moscow Aviation Center would not have been flying here. And it’s not at all a fact that firefighter-paratrooper Mikhail, who celebrates his birthday with a shock fight with fire, and his colleagues with shovels at the ready, could cope with the elements.

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