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Recent forest fires 'destroyed' 2 million hectares - 'an unprecedented catastrophe in Siberia'

By The Siberian Times reporter
29 September 2016

Oilmen forced to stop work after being trapped in 'horseshoe' of burning taiga, as pall of smoke smothers Irkutsk region where state of emergency imposed.

The view of Yaraktinskoye field before and after wildfires. Picture: Vkontakte

A peak of two million hectares were on fire around 22 September in eastern Siberia, with 'around 900,000 hectares are still on fire today', said Greenpeace, amid concern for children breathing fumes for weeks on end. Students have been sent home from 18 schools in Irkutsk region.

Global warming and 'the ineffectiveness of the authorities' was to blame for the 'unprecedented catastrophe in Siberia', said  spokesman Alexey Yaroshenko.

Yet again there is a gulf in estimates of the burning forests between the authorities and environmentalists, with the Russian federal forestry agency suggesting the much lower figure of 125,000 hectares had been hit. 

The Siberian Times recently highlighted the claims of 'hidden wildfires' not included on official statistics

Satellite image


MODIS map

Abnormal, dry weather, and almost no rains. We are surrounded by the front of fire, as if inside a horseshoe.' Pictures: Greenpeace

On Sunday, Russia's emergencies' minister Vladimir Puchkov called for additional measures to protect residents in the affected areas and spoke of 'the inability to truly evaluate the area' of the fire-affected regions.

Satellite surveillance remains hampered by the cloud of smoke, he added. Production was interrupted at Irkutsk Oil Company's operations in the Yaraktinskoye field due to the strong smoke from forest fires. 

Equipment failed to work due to lack of oxygen, it was reported.

'This has happened for the first time,' said Sergey Anisimov, acting head of oil and gas processing management. Abnormal, dry weather, and almost no rains. We are surrounded by the front of fire, as if inside a horseshoe. 

Map


Yaraktinskoye field


Yaraktinskoye field

Yaraktinskoye oil field is located 140 kilometres from Ust-Kut town, in the upper reaches of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Vkontakte

'We dig ditches. We reduce pumping because of smoke, because the people and the process equipment should be protected. When the situation is improving, the wind changes the direction, we start again.' 

Chief editor of Ust-Kut newspaper Dialog, Ekaterina Rodionova, said: 'Employees of Irkutsk Oil Company are extinguishing the fires on their own. 

'Over Yarakta hangs thick smog. It does not permit finding out the exact area of fire in order to extinguish it from the air, although there is a helicopter available.'

Workers at the oil field sent a video to Russia 24 television channel showing the smoke on the processing site. It was also reported that the work on virtually all areas was suspended.

Wildfires in Irkutsk region


Wildfires in Irkutsk region


Wildfires in Irkutsk region


Wildfires in Irkutsk region

A peak of two million hectares were on fire around 22 September in eastern Siberia, with 'around 900,000 hectares are still on fire today', said Greenpeace.  Pictures: Nikita Pyatkov/IRK.ru

It was said there is no electricity, ND gas turbines are not working, because of the smoke. Some workers left the field for a 'forced vacation'. Yaraktinskoye oil field is located 140 kilometres from Ust-Kut town, in the upper reaches of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River. 

Health and consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor spokeswoman Svetlana Kaurova said: 'Today an excess of harmful substances was registered in Bratsk. The excess of carbon monoxide was between 1.2 and 2.4 times.'

Other epicentres - Ust-Ilimsk, Ust-Kut, and Irkutsk - do not show harmful pollution in air samples, she said. Despite this, local residents complain about the smoke and say that it is especially hard for children. 

There have been school closures in Bratsk and Ust-Kut. A total of 18 schools in the Irkutsk region are closed until next week, with  6,726 children sent home. 

Comments (6)

Re: RT comment about RT by Jaker, Dundalk: RT were reporting on this over a month ago. Try the search box next time perhaps?
https://www.rt.com/in-motion/313401-russia-fires-siberia-baikal/
https://www.rt.com/news/313212-baikal-forest-fires-lake/
https://www.rt.com/in-motion/261541-massive-wildfire-siberia-irkutsk/
Brian, Braslav, Belarus
07/10/2016 23:39
3
0
It's going to get worse in the Subarctic regions of the world what are we as human beings on a collectively shared planet Earth to do? We must join together to solve the problems that we are faced with rather than arguing and fighting over artificial borders that aren't shown on satellite photos of the planet we live on...
Max, Anchorage Alaska USA
07/10/2016 12:18
1
1
Спасибо for raising awareness of this catastrophic situation. Thank you also to everyone who is reading all of the newsletters that are not in the "mainstream' such as the Siberian News. That is where the real reporting is happening. In the US, we have the same struggle, the "main" news is all propaganda and the smaller/independent newsletters where you find the real information. I agree with Jaker, I hope people get help from President Putin. Helping Russia is more important than any other "territory". Same applies to President Obama certainly.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
02/10/2016 18:17
3
1
Where is Putin? Does he care about all this? Or is this just another inconvenience to him while he's flying around somewhere else "Warring"?!

PS. RT? I hope you're showing this over & over again to raise attention & not your usual Kremlin biased propaganda. Nope, I just looked this minute on your website and not even a little teeny weeny word.
Jaker, Dundalk
30/09/2016 10:48
5
13
Equipment failed to work due to lack of oxygen, it was reported.

What about people's lungs then?
I feel sorry for those who were exposed to this pollution who have heart or lung disease also the young and the elderly. This smoke will shorten people's lives.
Clive Stott, Tasmania Australia
30/09/2016 07:35
7
0
That means Russia needs manufacturing more Beriev Be-200

Here in Spain the overwhelming majority of fires are deliberately caused by humans, so there is much control
Enrique, Spain
30/09/2016 00:47
5
0
1

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