Photo report "Yakutia on fire": how locals fight forest fires in Gorny district

Forest Fires
The most difficult situation with fires is now observed in Gorny Ulus. Photographer Alexey Vasiliev, together with the residents of the village of Magaras, went out to extinguish them.

21 fires are currently raging in the Gorny district, 13 of them are being extinguished, the fire has reached a distance of 1.5 kilometers to the village of Kyuyorelyakh. All forces have been transferred there. In other places, as in the village of Magaras, the villagers themselves are fighting the fire. The cause of these fires is dry thunderstorms.

Local residents in their UAZ car are heading to the fire in the Chaakiya area 15 kilometers from the village. Almost everyone came out to extinguish the fires as volunteers. Women and children are not allowed.

Every man in the village has been on fire once, so he knows how to act. After all, this happens every year.

In two days, the villagers collected 180 thousand rubles for fuel and lubricants. Everyone helps in any way they can. Women bring and cook food.

Even old-timers do not remember such strong fires, because the fire is still crowning at night. "Crowning fire is the most dangerous. Its speed is very high. In windy weather, the fire can spread for 20 km," says the head of the village, Vladimir Tekeyanov.

The head of the village believes that it is necessary to allow agricultural maintenance burning: "After all, our grandfathers did it in the fall, and in the spring there was nothing to burn. Now last year's dry grass, the leaves burn up in seconds."

Vladimir Kolesov is a volunteer, a resident of the village of Magaras. It's hard to breathe, fine ash is flying in the air. There is dense, thick smoke.

Everyone is hoping only for rain, which, according to forecasts, is not yet expected.

The fire affected 2,300 hectares.

Grigory Maksimov extinguishes a grassroots fire with a fire-fighting backpack.

The villagers see the solution to the problem of the annual fiery hell in the purchase of the Be-200 amphibious aircraft. They believe that it is cheaper and more necessary than the Arctic centers for 18 billion in Yakutsk.

"There are not enough helicopters. We gathered eight people, they were ready to fly when the first two heat points appeared. We waited three days, and did not wait for the helicopter. The fire has spread," says the head of the village.

The first group went to the fire on June 22.

People are ready to help, to work, but there are no conditions, there is not enough equipment. The budget of the village is small, they cannot afford to buy drones, walkie-talkies, GPS navigators. All villages should be provided with this, they believe. Without GPS, small fires cannot be found, people drive their personal tractors or walk. They are looking for fires, somehow they find them and try to extinguish them themselves, but there is no help.

Men cover several kilometers on foot, they have to defend themselves not only from fire, but also from a huge army of mosquitoes and midges.

Volunteers work in several shifts. They are resting in a hunting hut.

Having a short sleep, they go back to the battle with fire.

"Help comes when a fire is already threatening settlements. This is wrong. First of all, settlements need to be provided with special equipment. Soon there will be no forests left. There are whole forests left in the republic only near villages, if they burn down, there will be no more villages left," the head of the village believes. Volunteers drive old equipment left after their fathers.

Valentin Vasiliev, forester and head of firefighting. "Fire is like a man, sleeping at night and raging during the day," he says.

In total, 70 volunteers came out to fight the fire.

"On July 6, the Manchaary Games begin in Berdigestyakh, we need to act quickly. The athletes were not mobilized, let them train," the volunteers say.

Antonina Maksimova, the owner of the Odun shop in the village of Magaras. She bakes bread and sends 30 pieces to the volunteers every day. Her husband Grigory Maksimov has been fighting fires as a volunteer all these days.

The volunteers plan to put out the fire and go out to do haymaking by July 10.

Today there are 264 wildfires in Yakutia. The fire destroyed 294,814.5 hectares of forests.