Fire in a young forest (August, 2003)

Infringements: Rules on the safety of preventing fire in forests; unsatisfactory measures of extinguishing fire; violation of the ecological balance within the protected forest; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: In August 2003 one more fire broke out in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. An area of young forest covering approximately 0.8 hectares burned down. The young forest grew in quarter 987, within the Regulated Recreational Use Area. The applied method to extinguish the fire was characterized by unsatisfactory measures. In the end the damage made to the forest was much bigger than would have been necessary if the fire would have been extinguished in an appropriate manner.

For decades the well-organized forest-fire control service had been able to reach any seat of fire within 15 to 30 minutes after it was noted - thanks to the alarms and relatively simple technology. However, in this case an employee of the park, responsible for supervision at a fire-observation-tower, was not able to report the ignition of a forest-fire promptly, since telephone communication was defensive. Alternatively, a radio-based communication system surprisingly was not available either. The supervisor had to walk to a telephone post located in the forestry office in the village of Rozhkovka. However, it did not mean a fluid change in the situation, since general director Nickolai Bambiza forbade the foresters only shortly before to use automobiles "UAZ" equipped with radio communication, thus serving the forest protection service and facilitating them to reach a seat of fire quickly. This change had been carried through as "an educational measure". In the recent days in which stable communication with the fire-chemical station of the National Park with the forest service-buildings was at hand, it was possible to report the situation around the fire place promptly and to request fire-engineers and firemen to be sent to the site. However, in this situation the workers of the forest protection service were deprived of such opportunity. When the fire was extinguished the firemen found that furrows in the soil, made to prevent spreading of fire at the ground, had only partially been made, while an entrance for motor vehicles into the forest had not been close off and field-shits had not been set up at the specific site. Ultimately the fire was liquidated successfully, but it took more time than had been necessary. The population of the local village had had to feel fears and nervousness about the fire for a longer period.

Probably it is just a miracle which prevented that the fire distributed itself over a large area; this miracle may on the one hand be the limited relief of the site and the absence of a strong wind, on the other hand it may be that the forest-fire control service of the National Park had just been successful in extinguishing the fire, despite of their amateurish equipment and organization.

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(Compartment 987, August, 2003)

Further: Tourist complex and the destruction of ancient traditions of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, 2001 - 2003