For ten days special forces of the Primorskaya aviation, land and forest security base have been fighting the fire. They arrived at the call of the Forestry Agency of Kamchatka Krai. Also the employees of the Reserve and the crew of an MI-8 helicopter of the Vityaz-Aero airline supported them.
The fire spread across more than 32,000 hectares. The cause of the fire has not been established yet, but one of the main versions is dry thunderstorms.
The fire broke out in the northern part of Parapolsky Dol, one of the three sections of Koryaksky Reserve. It is in the Penzhinsky district of Kamchatka Krai and covers an area of 176.4 thousand hectares. This is a wetland of international importance, which is protected by the Ramsar Convention and is the largest habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds in Northeast Asia.
“Currently, there are several wildland fires in Kamchatka Krai, so we asked the Federal Forestry Agency for help to fight the fire on the territory of Koryaksky Reserve. The Forestry Department for the Far East Federal District allocated resources of the forest aviaguard of Primorye. We quickly delivered people to Manily village and from there they carried out flights to the place of fire-fighting by helicopter. The work was done in two phases. Currently there is no threat to the reserve, the fire has been eliminated," said Dmitry Shchipitsyn, head of the Forestry Agency of Kamchatka Krai.
Five employees of Kronotsky Reserve security service and six specialists of the Primorskaya aviation, land and forest security base went to fight the natural disaster on July 7. They worked under the supervision of Timur Lukyanenko, the paratroopers’ instructor. To prevent the fire from spreading to the central part of Parapolsky Dol, the team restrained and extinguished the flames at the southwestern edge of the fire, defending every meter of the protected area. They were equipped with motor pumps, fire hoses and knapsack fire extinguishers. Shovels, axes and chainsaws were used to create fire-prevention mineralized breaks.
“In the first days, the fight against the fire was complicated by the sunny and windy weather. The fire spread very quickly through the berry fields, elfin cedar, even sedges and cereals in the swamps flared up. We worked hard a whole day in the tundra, where you had to go with equipment, clinging your feet to the roots of bushes. And then all the results of the work were crossed out due to new fires because of the weather. In addition, we were annoyed by mosquitoes and horseflies which we had no time to fight back. When the cyclone and fog came, it became much easier, - said Nikolai Solovyov, state inspector of Kronotsky State Reserve. “Undoubtedly, it was very useful experience of extinguishing wildland fires.”
Then 9 professional firefighters from the forest aviaguard of Primorye and the crew of Mi-8 helicopter of Vityaz-Aero airline joined the team to extinguish the fire. Since there are hundreds of lakes and swamps on the territory of Parapolsky Dol, the specialists didn’t depend on a specific place for water intake and did not have to waste time while extinguishing the fire. The helicopter could scoop up water with a helibucket attached to it from any lake or swamp located near the edge of the fire and pour down the cascade onto the burning tundra. The spread of flame was stopped and the fire was extinguished.
“We are grateful to the professional team of the forest aviaguard of Primorye for their help in saving this unique natural area. Firefighters are very experienced in extinguishing fires at hard-to-reach territories. They worked as a well-coordinated team and implemented competent tactics to fight landscape fires. And it is worth to highlight very professional and quick actions of the crew of the Mi-8 helicopter. Commander Yevgeny Koroteev skillfully aviated the aircraft. It was directly involved in the process of extinguishing the fire, and also transferred us from a spot to a spot to work on the ground. And, of course, I am proud of my colleagues: together with such people you can safely perform the most difficult tasks,” commented Sergey Shevelev, senior state inspector of Kronotsky State Reserve.
According to the state inspectors of Kronotsky Reserve involved in extinguishing the fire, they observed dozens of birds on the lakes and swamps among the scorched tundra: various ducks, geese and whooper swans. The birds that hadn’t leave the disaster zone rested and fed.
In addition, it should be mentioned that employees engaged in the security of the protected areas must complete an annual technical training, which includes a module on the prevention and elimination of wildfires.
Inspectors master the basic methods of fighting fire in theory and in the field. And in this case the trained skills were useful for extinguishing the real fire.
Koryaksky State Nature Reserve has been under the management of Kronotsky State Reserve since 2015.
Koryaksky Reserve is located in Koryaksky District of Kamchatka Krai. It consists of three cluster sections: Goven’s Cape, Lavrov Bay (Olyutorsky District) and Parapolsky Dol (Penzhinsky District). The latter is quite remote from the rest and is located in the Parapolskaya lowland. The area of the reserve and its buffer zone are more than 1 million hectares.
Koryaksky Reserve preserves a unique natural complex of the north of Kamchatka - the Beringian forest tundra, places of mass migration and nesting of waterfowl and semiaquatic birds, marine and coastal ecosystems of the Bering Sea with large colonies of seabirds and rookeries of marine mammals. The largest population of gyrfalcons in Russia lives within the borders of Koryak Highlands, which is partially included into the reserve.