Tourists were accused of rampant elements
Due to the abnormally hot and dry weather, the Ladoga Skerries – reserved islands in the northern part of the huge lake – were engulfed in fires. Firefighters and local volunteers are putting out but not enough hands. In the group-association of volunteer forest firefighters, posts about the burning Ladoga appear every day. It is similar to reports from the front: where is the fire, what is the area, who is extinguishing. Where it was extinguished, and where the fires resumed.
Ladoga is not a cute little body of water, it is a huge, wide and deep lake with a displacement larger than the Gulf of Finland. There are long distances and many hard-to-reach places. Skerries are a scattering of rocky islands on the lake. These are reserved places with a unique nature. Now they are constantly on fire: there are several thousand people in the group of the Society of Volunteer Forest Firefighters, they broadcast the news every day. For example, on July 14, the Southern and Northern Skerries were burning: “Three small fires in the Lehmalahti Bay. Two – on the island of Bryzgalov, one on a small nameless one. They extinguished together with tourists and other volunteer teams of the Southern Skerries. On the island of Haukkasaari in the Gulf of Impilahti, the area of the fire was 59 hectares – a huge fire far from the base, extinguished by professional firefighters, volunteers, and the forestry.
Ordinary tourists see fires and transmit information, and immediately offer help: “I sailed past one of the fires on Korpisaari on July 12th. – Writes Natalia, who was resting on Ladoga. – The impression is heartbreaking. Watching the island burn in several places at once is painful and feeling helpless is also unpleasant. The shore was smoking and burning, there was not even a kayak to dock nearby. ” Natalya invites firefighters to publish instructions for tourists and everyone who accidentally notices the fires and wants to help. ” I could have spent an hour or two on this, but I didn’t know what to do. To scoop water with a pot and pour it, for example, or is it too low efficiency? “
Volunteer firefighters note that the causes of the fires are poorly extinguished campfires, cigarette butts, and a charcoal grill. At the same time, the skerries have been considered a semi-closed place for several years – in any case, already in 2018, when buying tours to Karelia, they said that no one guaranteed a trip to the skerries and the boat would have to be looked for “in the field” – at one of the berths in settlements. They joked that it would be possible or not to ride to the skerries – it depends on whether Vladimir Putin will not visit Valaam, which is nearby. Usually, however, the expeditions were not thwarted.
“MK” talked with the coordinator of volunteers of the Society of Voluntary Forest Firefighters Maria Oleshkevich.
– How do professional firefighters work on skerries? How many fewer are there than volunteers?
– With professional firefighters – Avialesokhrana – we are constantly in touch. We work together on almost every fire except very small ones. I would not say that there are fewer of them – groups of approximately the same size work on fires. But sometimes they do not have enough transport and equipment.
– Where do the volunteers get their firefighting equipment and what does it include?
– To extinguish fires in Ladoga we use: knapsack forest fire extinguishers (RLO), motor pumps, fire hoses. We buy all this ourselves. In the early years of the ODLP (Society of Voluntary Forest Firefighters), volunteers themselves were the source of funds. For the last couple of years, we have been applying to the Presidential Grants Fund, taking grants, and they are very supportive of us.
– Are almost all fires now man-made?
– In the case of Ladoga – not almost everything, but one hundred percent everything. There are three natural causes of forest fires – meteorite, volcanic eruption and dry thunderstorm. Reserves, for example, in the Urals, are on fire from dry thunderstorms this year. But there have been no dry thunderstorms on Ladoga so far. I say goodbye because I can clearly see the changes in the weather in the last three years here – it is getting hotter and drier many times over. But so far we can say that one hundred percent of the wildfires on the Ladoga skerries are caused by humans. These are unfinished fires and discarded cigarette butts.
Now the region is very much expecting rains – as well as throughout the Northwest. Perhaps nature will help put out the cigarette butts after careless vacationers – but it would be nice if they themselves learned to take care of themselves and not destroy the Ladoga nature.
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