How do bushfires occur and progress?
For a bushfire to start there needs to be fuel, in the form of leaves and/or wood and a ignition or flame point.
This ignition can be caused either naturally by a lightning strike, spontaneous combustion or a deliberate/accidental flame.
Australian Bushfires are particularly severe as eucalyptus tree leaves contain large amounts of oil that act much like any oil and burn very fast and hot.
So how does a house burn down in a bushfire even if there are no trees are directly touching the house?
Three main reasons:
- The water pressure at the local tap is too low for fire fighters to do anything.
- Wind can send flying embers from the main fire which catch in gutters and ignite leaves or other materials around the house.
- Gas lines leak and may explode.
- people should avoid living in or too close to the bush.
- avoid planting tall eucalypts near their houses
- reduce fuel load – get rid of leaves, fallen bark, dry wood around houses
- plant deciduous trees around the house rather than native trees
- ensure gutterings are clear of dry vegetation.
Thanks to Kath O’Brian for this
So, remember to keep your property clear of leaves if possible.
How do bush fires progress?
There are several major factors that affect the progress of a bushfire
- high winds (provide more oxygen)
- amount of fuel( eg leaves)
- low humidity
- high air temperature
All these contribute to the way a bushfire progresses. These factors then combine with the terrain.
The kind of terrain, eg hills and slopes, for example fires tend to spread faster up sides of hills.
Additionally flying burning embers of a main fire front can set spot fires ahead. The fire basically basically leaps ahead of itself helped by the wind.
How are plants and animals affected by bushfires?
Plants, typically their leaves and bark, burn but many plants are adapted to regrow. Though it sometimes depends on how hot the fire is.
A detailed article on plant ecology and biodiveristy of how plants are affected, in some cases benefit from bushfires…Australian National Botanical Gardens
Animals have a much harder time. The only animal able to properly survive are wombats that dig under the ground. Many animals die from smoke or are burnt.
Bushfires 1: Understanding bushfires – Curious
They can start with just a spark and can burn for months, affecting landscapes and lives for years.
Bushfires are a natural, essential and complex part of the Australian environment and have been for thousands of years. Our country’s first inhabitants lived seemingly hand in hand with fire, having developed complex fire management practices that complemented their deep understanding of the country and landscape in which they lived. Our ecosystems have evolved to be fire dependent, and require the periodic presence of fire. Herein lies the complexity: Australia is a land of fire where people have chosen to live.
Since European settlement, bushfires have been an event to be endured, a natural disaster with sometimes catastrophic effects. Research efforts have focused on how to predict and control bushfires in order to best protect lives and infrastructure, as well as understand the role that fire plays in the Australian landscape.A bushfire approaching properties in Coonabarabran. Image source: Alex King, NSW Rural Fire Service. Used with permission.
How does fire work?
What actually makes a fire burn?
We all know that if you gather up a bunch of dry twigs, grass and leaves and put a lit match to them, they’ll burn. Add some more sticks and bigger bits of wood and you’ve got a raging fire, ready for marshmallows. But why? How does fire actually work?
Fire is the result of applying enough heat to a fuel source, when you’ve got a whole lot of oxygen around. As the atoms in the fuel heat up, they begin to vibrate until they break free of the bonds holding them together and are released as volatile gases. These gases react with oxygen in the surrounding atmosphere. This chemical reaction causes a lot of heat, so much heat, in fact, that it can keep driving the reaction—as long as there’s enough fuel and oxygen still present, the reaction will become self sustaining. The actual flames of the fire are the release of some of the heat energy as light.
These components have led to the development of the ‘fire triangle’ of fuel, oxygen and heat. Remove any one of these and fire cannot sustain itself.
For fire to continue burning, it needs oxygen, heat, and fuel—the three components of the “fire triangle”.
- Select a button above to learn how that component can be removed from a fire.
- For very small fires (like campfires), oxygen can be removed by smothering, e.g. with soil or a blanket. It can be difficult to completely extinguish a fire this way.
- Heat can be removed by spraying the fire with water. The water heats up and turns to steam. This reaction requires a lot of energy, and it sucks away the heat energy of the fire.
And why does water put it out?
The primary role water plays in putting out a bushfire is cooling it down so there’s no longer enough heat to sustain the fire. When you pour water onto a fire, the heat of the fire causes the water to heat up and turn into steam. This is a very energy-intensive reaction, and it sucks away the heat (which is a form of energy) of the fire. This leaves the fire without enough energy to keep burning.
Less significant is the role water can play in ‘smothering’ a fire, depriving it of the oxygen that it also needs to burn.
Predicting when and where bushfires are likely to occur is obviously an important and useful part of bushfire management. It will be particularly important across many parts of Australia where the number of days of extreme fire danger are projected to increase under climate change.
Current thinking around predicting bushfires incorporates four ‘switches’ which all need to be ‘on’ for a fire to occur.
Fuel to burn
The Australian bush, though it has a reputation for being dry and scrubby, varies greatly from place to place around the country. There are regions of open woodlands, grassland savannas, dense rainforest. A bushfire will burn anything that it finds in its path, but different types of vegetation burn differently. Generally, fuel is classified as being fine (grasses and twigs that are less than 6 millimetres in diameter) or heavy (branches, logs or stumps). Finer fuels burn more easily, feeding the spread of the fire, but heavier fuels burn with greater intensity, creating more heat and making the fire more difficult to put out.
Fuel loads accumulate in different types of vegetation at different rates. In Western Australia, jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forests build up fuel at a rate of around 1–2 tonnes per hectare per year, while karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forests accumulate around 3–4 tonnes of fuel per hectare per year.
Dryness of fuel
Another key factor is fuel moisture, or how dry the bush is.
Researchers are developing methods of using remote sensing data from satellites or aircraft to detect the relative dryness of the bush. One way satellites can estimate fuel moisture is by picking up changes in the greenness of vegetation, an indicator of vegetation dryness. This is particularly important in grasslands. The key controls on the dryness level in fine fuels are relative humidity, temperature and recent rainfall.
Certain weather conditions fuel a fire and help it burn. Long-term seasonal weather patterns, such as periods of drought or rainfall, can affect the availability and moisture content of vegetation and the fuel available for a fire to burn. A fire is much more likely to ignite, and continue to burn, in hot, dry and windy weather.
Source of ignition
Lightning strikes can provide the initial spark that sets off a bushfire, and cause around half of Australia’s bushfires. Other causes can be faulty electrical wires, a cigarette carelessly tossed out of a car window, a hazard reduction burn gone wrong, arson, or accidental igniton.Even a small spark has the potential to become a ferocious blaze. Image source: NSW Rural Fire Service. Used with permission.
The primary influences upon how bushfires move through the landscape are humidity, geography, wind and temperature.
Humidity and temperature
The effects of ambient temperature and humidity on a fire are pretty obvious. The hotter the air temperature, the closer any fuel is to its ignition point, and dry fuel will burn more easily. The lower the humidity, the drier the air is, again helping fuels burn as they release their moisture into the air more readily.
Slope of the land
The slope of the landscape is also important. Just consider a match and how much faster it burns when you hold it so that flame is burning up the stick (and towards your fingers!) than down. Similarly, fires burn much faster uphill than down. This is because the radiation and convection a fires creates preheat the fuel source, and this is much more readily done upslope than down. A 10-degree increase in slope usually results in a doubling of the speed of the fire. Fire will spread up a 20-degree slope four times as fast as it will along flat ground.
Fire moves faster uphill because there is less space between the flames and new fuel to burn. Also, the radiant heat caused by the fire pre-heats the fuel, making it easier to ignite.
The increased distance between flames and new fuel means fires spread more slowly when moving downhill (unless the slope of the land creates unusual air currents).
How wind spreads fire
Generally, as long as wind speeds are below 12–15 km/h, a fire will burn slowly. However, if wind speeds are even slightly higher than this, they will have a significant impact on the fire movement. A change in wind, often from a cold front, can activate the side of a fire, making it broader. In general, a wider fire will burn faster than a very narrow one.
Fires also create their own weather; the heat of a fire can result in whirlwinds and turbulent air currents. These can drive the fire sideways, broadening the fire front. Wind can also cause spotting—carrying pieces of burning fuel, like twigs, leaves or small embers, ahead of the fire, igniting more small fires.
Fire intensity is described in terms of the number of kilowatts of energy each metre of the fire front generates. A controlled hazard-reduction fire usually produces less than 500 kilowatts per metre of energy, while an extreme bushfire can generate more than 100,000 kilowatts per metre. Once a fire’s intensity exceeds around 2,000 kilowatts per metre it can no longer be safely managed by firefighters working on the ground.
A number of computer models have been developed to help predict the spread and shape of fires across the landscape. The most widely used of these is Phoenix Rapidfire, developed by the Bushfire CRC, the University of Melbourne and various fire agencies. Western Australian authorities used Aurora, a model developed by the University of Western Australia, Landgate and the Bushfire CRC, and CSIRO has developed a new model called Spark.
These models take into account all the factors discussed above that influence the behaviour and spread of the fire. They incorporate meteorological data as well as geographical landscape data like the slope of the land, vegetation type, and the presence of unburnable features like roads or water bodies. Phoenix Rapidfire also incorporates components that deal with spotting and fire suppression options.
When a fire becomes a firestorm
If a fire gains enough momentum, it generates so much heat that it creates its own wind currents, and becomes a raging inferno sometimes known as a firestorm. The fire’s heat creates an extremely strong updraught of air. The air at ground level around the fire is then drawn in strongly towards the fire’s centre to replace the rising air. The turbulence this creates can result in fire whirls which spiral and dart around, burning as they go.
The heat of the fire can cause thunderstorms or pyrocumulus clouds. These can produce lightning strikes, which can start new fires. With the right combination of atmospheric conditions, fire tornadoes can be created. These can have wind speeds of greater than 250 km/h and are extremely destructive.
5) There’s lots of smoke
Where there’s fire, well, you know …An aerial view of the wildfires East Gippsland on January 2, 2020.Dale Appleton/DELWP via AP
Smoke: It’s hard to overstate just how much smoke has been created. Compare the NASA Landsat satellite image on the left of the southeast coast on July 24, 2019, to the same region on New Year’s Day, during some of the most intense fires this season:NASA’s Landsat satellite captured the thick smoke of Australia’s fires over the country’s southeast coast. NASA and NASA
The smoke is so plentiful that NOAA reported it’s “in the process of circumnavigating the planet,” showing up over South America after being pushed there by the wind.
Smoke is a hazard in itself. It’s an irritating pollutant that exacerbates respiratory illnesses and heart problems. Fine particles from the smoke and soot can be smaller than 2.5 micrometers — tiny enough to lodge themselves into the crannies of the lungs and pass into the bloodstream.
“The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles,” the US Environmental Protection Agency explains. “These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles also can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases — and even are linked to premature deaths in people with these conditions.”
6) Thousands of people’s lives are being disrupted, and the government’s response hasn’t been inspiring
The pace of destruction of Australia’s wildlife is eye-popping. Thousands of people are suffering, too. States of emergency have been declared in New South Wales and Victoria, and army reserve troops have been called up to assist in recovery efforts. Australia’s firefighting force is largely made up of volunteers, many of whom have had to forgo weeks of work at their regular jobs to fight the blazes.
Their work has been very difficult. “The pace at which the bushfires have spread and the subsequent heavy smoke have made it difficult for emergency services to access and evacuate some communities, at times forcing residents to flee to beaches and other water bodies to avoid impact and await rescue,” the Red Cross reported January 8. In one case, 4,000 people in Mallacoota, Victoria, headed to the beach to be rescued. The main road heading into their town had been closed off.
“Power, fuel, and food supplies have been severely interrupted to some communities and road closures have been common,” the Red Cross continues. “This has resulted in some communities being isolated, or only accessible by air or sea (when smoke conditions allow). ”The Australian Department of Defense evacuates families in Omeo, Victoria, on January 4, 2020.Corporal Nicole Dorrett/ADF via AP Families are evacuated by air from Mallacoota Airport, on January 5, 2020.Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Australia’s government created a new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help fund fire relief and authorized payments to volunteer firefighters, some of whom have now spent months on duty.
However, Australia’s elected leaders have been reluctant to confront the country’s contributions to climate change, a major factor in the bushfires. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and both of Australia’s major parties are courting support from the country’s powerful mining industry. Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular has refused to connect the dots between Australia’s reliance on coal, its greenhouse gas emissions, the ongoing blazes, and the consequences for Australians.
7) The disaster won’t end when the fires go out
Beyond the immediate destruction from the bushfires, Australians face other risks to their well-being — which will persist long after the fires are subdued.
The extreme stress of losing homes, livelihoods, pets, and property can be difficult to cope with. As always in a natural disaster, mental health is a concern. After a major disaster, studies find a 5 percent to 15 percent increase in the incidence of mental health problems among survivors. And there will be a lot of rebuilding to do.
The environmental crisis doesn’t end either when the fires go out. When rains come, all the charred debris from the fire may wash into freshwater sources, polluting it for both aquatic life and human consumption.
On dry land, animals will continue to suffer, too. “There’s going to be ongoing mortalities [i.e. deaths] as the result of starvation — there will be nothing to eat — and the lack of shelter,” says Sarah Legge, an ecologist at the Australian National University who studies how species respond to fire. Feral predators like cats and foxes will be attracted to burned areas she says, and they’ll “mop up all the native animals that are left there over the next few months.”
Which is all to say: Even after the fires cease, don’t turn your attention away from Australia.
8) You can help
The 2019-20 bushfires: a CSIRO explainer
But what causes these bushfires and why has this bushfire season been so significant? The CSIRO has been undertaking bushfire research for almost 70 years. This factsheet, with advice from other specialist organisations, provides some insights.
Bushfires in Australia
Bushfires are a natural part of the Australian landscape. Many of our plants need bushfires to regenerate, and many have adapted to the harsh conditions our climate delivers. With such a vast country, just as the landscape changes from place to place, so too does the bushfire risk and the timing of the bushfire seasons.
What causes bushfires?
Bushfires are the result of a combination of weather and vegetation (which acts as a fuel for the fire), together with a way for the fire to begin – most commonly due to a lightning strike and sometimes human-influences (mostly accidental such as the use of machinery which produces a spark). Depending on weather conditions, embers can be transported by wind from one location to another, causing new fires or spotting.
When they are large enough, bushfires can generate local weather impacts such as lightning, tornadoes and fire-storms which, in turn, can impact on fire behaviour.The terrain of an area (or the landscape) contributes to the spread and management of a bushfire. Fires burn faster uphill and can build in intensity and speed. Fires that start in remote, rough or hilly terrain can be difficult to fight.
These factors of weather, vegetation and terrain vary widely across Australia due to its large size and distinct regional climates, requiring different fire management and firefighting techniques.
Why has this fire season been so significant?
Of the three factors that contribute to fire behaviour, two have played a major role in this bushfire season for the eastern and southern states of Australia: weather and vegetation.
Weather relates to conditions over short periods of time. The risk of bushfires starting or advancing out of control is highest when there is ‘fire weather’ – a combination of strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures. In 2019, southern and eastern Australia experienced record low rainfall and record high temperatures which have contributed to increased frequency of fire weather days.
Australians are familiar with the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) sign on roadsides across the country that show the level of fire danger on a given day. The index combines a measure of vegetation dryness with the weather factors characterising ‘fire weather’ – air temperature, wind speed and humidity. If you add up the FFDI values for every day over a year, you get what’s called the ‘annual accumulated FFDI’.
Vegetation including trees, grasses, bushes and leaves act as fuel for a bushfire. The more abundant and drier the fuel, the more intense the fire will burn. Nationally-averaged rainfall was 40 per cent below average for the year, making 2019 Australia’s driest year since records began in 1900. Many parts of southern and eastern Australia are in drought and have been for multiple years which can impact both the rate of vegetation growth and its dryness. Fuel management including hazard reduction burns can reduce likelihood of ignition and initial rates of spread in high risk areas if carried out in an appropriately targeted manner.
The role of climate change
Climate change doesn’t cause fires directly but has caused an increase in the occurrence of extreme fire weather and in the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia since the 1950s. In addition to 2019 being the driest year since records began in 1900, it was Australia’s warmest year. In 2019 the annual mean temperature was 1.52 °C above average1.
The impact of climate change has led to longer, more intense fire seasons and an increase in the average number of elevated fire weather days, as measured by the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). Last year saw the highest annual accumulated FFDI on record.
Living with bushfires and the role of science
Despite the fact that bushfires are a natural part of life in Australia, each season, preparing for and managing bushfires is critical to minimise the risk and potential damage of bushfires. Fire prevention measures include:
- Fuel management (including hazard reduction burns) before the fire season
- Ignition prevention (including total fire bans) before the onset of a bad fire day
- Use of fire suppression tools when a bushfire breaks out, including active fire-fighting with water and fire retardants, back burning and land clearing for fire breaks.
In the medium to longer term, where and the way we live and organise our communities, and how and where we build our houses also play an important part in how we prepare and respond to bushfire threats.
Our national science effort remains focussed on providing the information necessary to improve our overall bushfire understanding and preparation.
Australian researchers produce some of the world’s best climate, weather, fire and disaster research; and work closely with operational agencies, governments and communities to better prepare for, respond and recover from these events.
To help Australia navigate through the challenges bushfires present, CSIRO and the science community draw on a wide range of expertise, including: fire prediction; fire behaviour; fire monitoring; fire suppression; fire testing; bushfire modelling tools; understanding the link between bushfires and greenhouse gas emissions; air quality; fire impacts and recovery planning; post fire-season review and field work that informs building codes; disaster management; Indigenous fire knowledge; risk and resilience science; environmental rehabilitation; and climate research.
CSIRO will also provide recommendations to Australian Governments on how we can better prepare for and manage bushfires when they occur, including new tools driven by science and technology.
2019-20 bushfires across Australia
This information aims to explain in simple terms our scientific understanding of bushfires in Australia in context of those experienced in recent months. Much research is yet to be done to fully understand the complex interplay of factors that led to the 2019-20 bushfires across Australia. CSIRO has produced this information with input from attendees of the Bushfire Science Roundtable held on Wednesday 15 January 2020.
- Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2019; CSIRO-BoM 2018 State of the Climate report
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Bushfires – CSIRO
[Image of a green map of Australia with a flame in the middle of it appears on screen]
Narrator: Bushfires are part of life in Australia,
[Animation shows clusters of flames moving through grasslands and consuming a house]
and when they burn out of control near populated areas can cause significant loss of life and property.
CSIRO has been conducting bushfire research for over 60-years.
[Animation changes to show three circles with representative icons in them]
Bushfires can start in a variety of ways, but there are three factors that contribute to the behaviour of a bushfire.
[Animation changes to show a triangle with three representative icons, as described below in them, surrounded by a flame]
The weather, the vegetation and the terrain.
[Animation changes to show a Bushfire Danger Rating with the arrow on the Low-Moderate section]
Fire Danger Ratings for Australia’s two predominant types of vegetation, grasslands and forests,
[Animation changes to show four circles with representative icons in them as described below]
are based on wind speed, air temperature, relative humidity and rainfall.
[CSIRO logo appears at the bottom of the screen with the words Fire Danger Model and Statistical Analysis alongside the logo]
By analysing observations and forecasts of these variables CSIRO can estimate the likelihood of fire weather and potential severity of bushfire occurrence anywhere in Australia, now and into the future.
[Animation changes to show a pixelated map of Australia in the middle of a graph showing the increase in frequency of fire weather]
Over recent decades we’ve seen an increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather in Australia. We predict that many regions will see a significant increase in the probability of the highest levels of fire danger in the years ahead.
[Animation changes to show a house with a family of four standing out front surrounded by grasslands]
CSIRO is developing the science and tools to enable communities to better understand the changing profile of their bushfire risk and help them develop effective, locally relevant plans to protect property and life.
[CSIRO logo appears on screen with text: To learn more about bushfire prevention and response in your area, contact your local fire authority.]90,000 Natural fires – Foundry District Municipality (No. 79)
Today, in the age of technological progress, the development of science and technology in the world there are many different kinds of accidents, catastrophes, certainly associated with the death of people, with the destruction of material values, with the occurrence of serious violations of the environment, etc.
The topic of natural emergencies is becoming more and more relevant. The number of floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions increases every year, more and more people die in them.
Natural emergencies include wildfires. Forest fires are one of the most serious problems in Russian forests. In recent years, the total forest area has been shrinking disproportionately. And one of the reasons for this decline is forest and peat fires. Currently, there are many forest fires every year, and catastrophic outbreaks of forest and peat bog fires are also increasing. The harm they bring to humanity is enormous, especially if we take into account not only direct, but also indirect damage.A fire is a spontaneous (uncontrolled) combustion that spreads to a forest area surrounded by a non-burning territory. The forest area, over which the fire spreads, also includes open forest areas. One fire refers to the entire area covered by fire, surrounded by a territory that is not currently burning.
General information on wildfires
A fire that occurs in the environment is called natural.
The concept of natural fires includes forest fires, fires of steppe and grain fields, peat and underground fires of fossil fuels.Forest fires are among the most common natural phenomena that lead to the destruction of forests and other material values, and sometimes to human casualties. Statistics show that they occur spontaneously in 8-10% of cases, and in 90% of cases due to human fault.
In Russia, on average, from 30 to 50 thousand hectares of forests are burned out annually. Depending on the nature of the fire and the composition of the forest, fires are subdivided into grass-roots, high-altitude, and soil fires. Almost all of them, at the beginning of their development, have the character of grassroots and, if certain conditions are created, they turn into upper and soil ones.
The most important characteristics are the speed of propagation of ground and top fires, the depth of burnt underground. Fires are classified as weak, medium and strong. According to the speed of fire propagation, the grassroots and horsebacks are subdivided into stable and fugitive. The speed of propagation of a weak ground fire does not exceed 1 m / min, an average one – from 1 to 3 m / min, a strong one – over 3 m / min … over 100 m / min … A weak underground fire is considered to be a fire in which the depth of burning does not exceed 25 cm., medium – from 25 to 50 cm, strong – more than 50 cm . ..
Natural fires are very dangerous and often recurring emergencies. They lead to the destruction of forests, death of animals and plants, disruption of the heat balance in the fire zone, pollution of the atmosphere with combustion products, and soil erosion. Often, natural fires are the cause of injury, illness, and death of people.
Causes of fires
Natural causes can be the source of natural fires: lightning discharge, spontaneous combustion, friction of trees.In the overwhelming majority of cases, natural fires are the result of human violation of fire safety requirements. Approximately 60-70% of wildfires occur within a radius of 5 kilometers from settlements. In this zone, people most often spend time “in nature”.
The main causes of wildfires are: an unextinguished cigarette, a burning match, a smoldering wad after a shot, oily rags or rags, a glass bottle refracting rays of sunlight, sparks from a vehicle’s muffler, burning old grass, stubble, debris near a forest or peat bog, cleaning using the fire of forest areas for agricultural use or the arrangement of forest pastures. Bonfire is one of the main potential sources of wildfires. In some cases, wildfires are the result of deliberate arson, man-made accidents or disasters.
Prohibitions to prevent fire in the natural environment:
– throw burning matches, cigarette butts, smoldering rags in the forest;
– to make a fire in dense thickets and in young coniferous stands, under low hanging crowns of trees, next to warehouses of wood, peat, in the immediate vicinity of mature crops;
– leave spontaneously combustible materials in the forest: rags and rags soaked in oil, gasoline, glassware, which in sunny weather can focus the sun’s beam and ignite dry vegetation;
– to burn dry grass in forest glades, in gardens, in fields, under trees;
– set fire to reeds;
– make a fire in windy weather and leave it unattended;
– leave the fire burning after leaving the parking lot.
If a natural fire is detected, try to eliminate the source of fire by yourself; if it was not possible to do this, quickly leave the danger zone, be sure to report the place of the fire to the forest guards, the administration, the police, and the rescue service.
Classification of natural fires
Natural fires include forest, steppe, peat, underground, and their possible combinations.
A forest fire is an uncontrolled burning of vegetation that spontaneously spreads over a forest area.The phenomenon is very fast and frequent. Such disasters and emergencies arising in connection with them occur in various regions of the country every year and largely depend on the behavior of people in the forest. Forest fires destroy trees and shrubs, forest products, buildings and structures. Plantations weakened by fires become hotbeds of harmful diseases, which leads to the death of not only those affected by the fire, but also of neighboring plantings. As a result of fires, the protective, water-protective and other useful properties of the forest are reduced, valuable fauna are destroyed, the planned maintenance of forestry and the use of forest resources are violated. Up to 80% of fires occur due to the violation by the population of fire safety measures when handling fire in places of work and rest, as well as as a result of the use of faulty equipment in the forest. In the areas of logging, forest fires occur mainly in the spring when clearing felling areas by fire – burning felling residues. Forest fires may be the result of an insufficiently established service for monitoring the state of the forest and untimely notification of the relevant authorities about the foci of fires that have arisen in the forest and their transformation into massive ones.
Ground fires are most often observed – about 90% of their total number. In this case, the fire spreads only along the above-ground cover, covering the lower parts of the tree trunks and the roots protruding to the surface.
Ground fires are subdivided into fugitive and persistent. during a runaway fire, the living and dead above-ground cover burns, self-seeding of the left, fallen leaves and needles, burns the bark of the lower part of trees and exposed roots, coniferous undergrowth and undergrowth. Such a fire spreads at a high speed, bypassing places with high humidity of the cover, therefore, part of the area remains unaffected by fire. Runaway fires most often occur in the spring, when only the uppermost layer of small combustible materials dries out.
In case of a sustained ground fire, the litter burns out, the roots and bark of trees are severely burned, undergrowth and undergrowth are completely burned out. Sustained fires usually begin in mid-summer when the litter dries out.
In case of a low-level fire, the flaming type of combustion predominates, and in case of a stable fire, it is flameless.
Distinguish between steady and upper run fires. Crown fires cause especially great damage when the crowns of the upper tier trees are burning. Runaway riding fires are typical for both the first and second half of summer.
Analyzing the causes and the process of development of forest fires, it is easy to see that the fire hazard in forests depends significantly on weather conditions, for which there are currently quite sophisticated methods to predict. The greatest likelihood of forest fires during the fire season (April-November). The greatest influence on the fire hazard in the forest is exerted by: precipitation, air temperature and humidity, wind and cloudiness.
Under the influence of temperature, ambient humidity, biological structure of peat-forming plants and a number of other reasons, peat gradually decomposes. The higher the degree of decomposition of peat, the more it is subject to fire.since such peat has lower moisture content, higher average density and heat capacity. The burnout rate of peat in calm weather or with a weak wind is 0.18 kg / m2.
At a wind speed of 3 m / s or more, burning peat particles are scattered downwind over considerable distances. Sparks, falling on a layer of dried peat on the surface, ignite this layer and form new foci of combustion. The fire spreads in the direction of the wind.
The movement of fire across the surface in a solid line, without taking into account the centers formed by the sparks scattered by the wind, is usually called the speed of the fire, and the speed of movement of the fire, taking into account the centers formed from the sparks, is the speed of fire propagation.
Depending on the speed of the fire, 4 peat fire fronts are distinguished:
– head (main), moving in the direction of the wind with the highest speed;
– two side (flank), moving to the sides from the leading front and at a lower speed;
– rear, moving in the direction opposite to the direction of the wind (towards the wind), and at the lowest speed.
The time of year and day, as well as meteorological factors, have a great influence on the development of peat fires. At night, the fire develops more slowly, because the temperature of the peat surface is lower than the temperature of the deposit, and as a result, moisture rises to its upper layers. In addition, usually the wind dies down at night and dew falls.
The development of peat fires can be divided into three periods.
First – initial – peat ignition. It is characterized by a small area of the hearth, a low burning rate, a relatively low temperature and weak smoke in the combustion zone. The duration of the tanning period ranges from several minutes to several hours and depends on the moisture content of the peat, wind speed, temperature and relative humidity.
The second is characterized by intense combustion with an increase in its speed and temperature. The area of the fire is rapidly increasing, often reaching several thousand square meters. The ambient temperature rises, smoke spreads over a long distance.
Third – the fire spreads most intensively and over a very large area, amounting to several hectares.The fire is characterized by a high temperature in the combustion zone and strong smoke.
In the foci of peat fires, heaps of burnt, fallen trees and cavities of burnt-out peat appear, into which people and equipment can fall.
Underground peat fires spread very slowly by themselves and usually arise from grassroots, in which the fire is deepened throughout the entire conflagration in separate foci. Therefore, the primary task is to extinguish a ground fire. Then they begin to eliminate the foci of an underground fire. To extinguish underground fires, chemical solutions or “wet” water are used, supplied under pressure by injection into the depths of the peat layer using fire engines or watering machines equipped with hoses with perforated trunks – peaks. You can also localize underground fires by creating ditches around them using trenchers, trenchers, bulldozers or explosive methods. The depth of the ditches should reach the groundwater level or reach the mineral soil, sinking 20 cm into it, i.e.That is, it should be equal to.
The outer slope of the ditches is covered with mineral soil. In this case, it is advisable to fill the ditches with water. Considering that the edge of underground fires is not visible everywhere, when extinguishing such fires, care must be taken to avoid people and vehicles getting into burnt-out pits or caverns.
Underground fires occur in mines, mines, and minerals. They are caused by both external heat impulses (careless handling of fire, malfunction of electrical equipment, friction of moving parts of machines and mechanisms), and spontaneous combustion of coal, carbonaceous rocks, sulphide ores.A particular danger is posed by underground fires in places of accumulation of explosive substances, including methane, coal and sulphide dust. Prevention of underground fires and the prevention of their consequences consists in the fact that, along with general fire-prevention measures (the use of non-combustible materials for fastening mine workings, hardly inflammable conveyor belts and electric cables in non-combustible sheaths, the device of an extensive fire water supply network, etc.). the use of special schemes of opening and preparation of deposits is envisaged.They allow you to localize the site in the event of a fire and divert the fire gases into the general outgoing air stream, bypassing the rest of the areas where people are.
Wildfires are the result of burning dry grass or mature crops and spread in windy weather at a speed of up to 120 km / h.
Damaging factors of fires
The main damaging factors include the direct effect of fire (combustion), high temperature and heat radiation, gaseous environment; smoke and gas contamination of premises and territories with toxic combustion products.People who are in the combustion zone suffer the most, as a rule, from open flames and sparks, high ambient temperatures, toxic combustion products, smoke, and low oxygen concentration.
Open fire. Cases of direct exposure of people to open flames are rare. Most often, the defeat occurs from the radiant streams emitted by the flame. Medium temperature. The greatest danger to people is the inhalation of heated air, leading to burns of the upper respiratory tract, suffocation and death.So, at temperatures above 100 ° C, a person loses consciousness and dies in a few minutes. Skin burns are also dangerous.
Loss of visibility due to smoke. Successful evacuation of people in case of fire can only be ensured with their unimpeded movement. Evacuees must clearly see evacuation exits or exit signs. When visibility is lost, the movement of people becomes chaotic. As a result of this, the evacuation process becomes difficult and then can become unmanageable.
Reduced oxygen concentration. In fire conditions, the oxygen concentration in the air decreases. Meanwhile, a decrease in it even by 3% causes a deterioration in the motor functions of the body. A concentration of less than 14% is considered dangerous; with it, brain activity and coordination of movements are disturbed.
According to official statistics, fire covers up to 2 million hectares of forest per year, and according to unofficial statistics – up to 14 million hectares (this is 140 times the area of Moscow).Why such difference? It’s very simple: about a third, that is, 200 out of 600 million hectares of Russian forests, is officially (!) Outside the fire protection zone, and for this territory there is not even reliable statistics on the number and area of fires. For the rest of the area, data on fires are also far from always reliable.
T According to official data, about 67% of forest fires and 95% of the forest area covered by fire fell on 24 constituent entities of the Russian Federation. These are Chita, Irkutsk, Amur, Belgorod, Ryazan, Voronezh, Arkhangelsk, Volgograd, Rostov, Nizhny Novgorod, Ulyanovsk regions, the republics of Komi, Tyva, Buryatia, Khakassia, Krasnodar, Stavropol, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk territories, Yamalo-Nenetsky, Chukotka, Ust-Orda Buryat and Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Districts.
The Chita Region and Khabarovsk Territory turned out to be the most fire hazardous areas, they accounted for 56% of the territory covered by fire.
Unfortunately, official statistics practically do not take into account fires outside the territories of the state forest fund. In particular, the huge areas covered by grass fires are not taken into account.
Statistics of emergency situations show that in Russia the share of wildfires and emergencies caused by them is approximately 24% of the total number of natural emergencies. Thus, the problem of wildfires is one of the most serious and requires special attention. To solve this problem, it is necessary to improve the technique and equipment of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for extinguishing natural fires. In densely populated regions of Russia, it is necessary, when planning and maintaining forestry, to avoid crops that are especially dangerous in terms of fire. An effective national satellite monitoring system for fires should be created, providing direct reception of satellite information by all both state and independent, including public receiving stations.90,000 Fighting wildfires in a changing world
Photo: Tony Salas
Professor Johann J. Goldammer, Director of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), explains what needs to be done to avoid the dramatic consequences of these fires this year and into the future, in an interview posted on the UN Department’s website for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
Observing numerous fires in France, Portugal and Croatia prof. Johann Goldammer answers questions from a UNISDR representative and analyzes the global wildfire situation.
Also prof. Goldammer has kindly agreed to give an exclusive interview to Bellona, dedicated to the specifics of fighting forest fires specifically in Russia. You can read it here.
The professor has been closely cooperating with Russian scientists dealing with forest protection problems and fire safety specialists for more than twenty years. Thanks to this cooperation, international conferences are held in our country, and Russian scientists participate in international projects.An example of this is the latest publication of the Center for Vegetation Fires and Global Change.
UNISDR: It seems that we are facing more frequent and catastrophic wildfires in Europe and around the world. This is true?
Professor Johann J. Goldammer.
Johann Goldammer: Globally, we are seeing two different trends in fire patterns. In parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, former natural ecosystems are being replaced by intensively managed agro-ecosystems: agricultural land, pastures and plantations of crops. Historically, many natural savannas, woodlands and forests in this area have periodically caught fire, leading to large wildfires. Today, fires occur less frequently in these intensively cultivated lands. And yet, as a network of roads and infrastructure develops that fragment landscapes, fewer such fires occur in these regions.
A completely different trend is observed throughout Europe, including the Eastern European region and the territories between the Urals and Central Asia.Here, rural exodus — urban population growth at the expense of former rural residents — has led to a reduction or even complete cessation of land use, which in turn has led to a weakening of forest management. The previously managed landscapes are replaced by territories overgrown with wild vegetation and forests. The rural workforce, which in the past played an active role in controlling and preventing forest fires, is shrinking. In many villages in the Euro-Mediterranean region and the adjacent Western Balkans, only elderly people live.Former farm houses are being converted into summer cottages. The abandonment of the traditional use of wood and natural non-wood fuels for cooking and energy production results in these materials remaining in landscapes and thus making those landscapes more vulnerable to wildfires. The fires that hit southern Europe in the summer of 2017 have affected landscapes that would hardly have burned 30-50 years ago.
UNISDR: To what extent is climate change increasing fire risks in Europe and other parts of the world?
J.M.G .: The impact of climate change on the risks of wildfires has been noted in different regions of the world. One problem is the more extreme and prolonged droughts we are seeing these days in Europe. Droughts create conditions for more intense and prolonged wildfires. But the increased frequency of heavy rainfall is also causing problems, especially after severe fires, such as destruction of vegetation and soil exposure. Post-fire showers lead to secondary hazards such as soil erosion, mud flows, flash floods or siltation of rivers and reservoirs.
Increased “fire seasons”, with fires starting at the beginning of the year and continuing until the end of the year – a phenomenon seen in Europe and North America. It should be noted that more intense night-time burns are currently observed in many regions. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that land owners and government agencies responsible for fire safety are under a heavy burden due to long periods of fire hazard and the need to fight fires for longer periods of time.In general, we need to better prepare for these changes.
UNISDR: Are we also dealing with new vulnerabilities?
JG: Along with the increased risk of wildfires, we are indeed seeing new vulnerabilities. This year, in Chile, South Africa and Europe, we saw wildfires affecting all elements of the landscapes in which people live. Natural landscapes such as forests and other natural ecosystems, protected areas or dried-up wetlands are interspersed with cultural landscapes and industrial areas to form natural and rural spaces.Thus, wildfires are increasingly affecting the interface between flammable vegetation and residential areas, including farms, villages and suburban residential areas. These fires not only lead to significant economic losses due to burned down private houses, government buildings and industrial infrastructure. Fires in industrial landfills and hazardous materials storage sites often cause hazardous air pollution, such as dioxin emissions.Such fires pose a serious threat to human health and safety.
And finally, we have “modern nomads” – people who move through areas with a high probability of fire or temporarily live in them. People seeking relaxation, fleeing cities overheated in summer, end up in fire-hazardous areas with a huge security risk. Many of the 63 civilians killed in recent wildfires in Portugal are trapped on a safe road.This tragedy symbolizes a shift in fire-related vulnerability in our modern life. Some of our observations confirm the magnitude of the problem: over the past eight weeks, wildfires in France, Croatia, Portugal and Italy have required a total of about 20,000 people to be evacuated and secured. This is a new trend in Europe, reminiscent of the evacuation practice in North America. According to the Global Wildfire Fatalities and Damage Report, which is published annually by the Global Wildfire Monitor, an average of 130,000 people worldwide have been evacuated by wildfires over the past five years.
UNISDR: With all these changes and the clearly increasing risk of forest fires, what lessons have been learned in practice? Or are we less prepared for moderate to extreme wildfires than we were 40 years ago?
JG: Although it is clear that the risk of wildfires in Europe has increased significantly, the response to this development varies from country to country. Only a few states have responded to the many changes in their landscapes by developing adequate prevention strategies and improving fire services to deal with difficult fire situations.Spain is leading in this regard. Other countries rely heavily on the purchase of advanced firefighting technology, including firefighting aircraft.
However, these fire suppression technologies do not replace the need to find ways to address the previously mentioned causal factors that lead to higher risks of forest fires and increase the vulnerability of local communities.
There are only a few examples where national policies and planning tools have been developed to address the root causes of changing risks and vulnerabilities.For example, some countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia have revisited their traditional approaches to fire fighting and have begun to develop and implement fire management strategies. Most important is the shift from action-oriented strategies to Integrated Fire Management (IFM), which considers two levels of integration.
The first level is the consolidation of civil society in fire management, in particular through active community action in the prevention and control of fires.The need for this approach is clear: people living in rural areas are key actors in forest fire prevention, as many fires start with the burning of agricultural residues in the fields. And uncontrolled forest fires primarily affect rural communities and their living space. Since rural settlements are often located in remote locations where firefighters and rescuers may arrive too late, active involvement of local residents in the initial protection of their farms from an impending forest fire is critical.
The second level of the PMC is the integrated management of fires in land use systems and in natural ecosystems, including forests. Many natural and cultural ecosystems have evolved along with wildfires. Fires from lightning and human activity have formed ecosystems of high stability and productivity for millennia. The exclusion of regular, low-intensity fires from these ecosystems could lead, in particular, to the accumulation of hazardous combustible materials that, under unfavorable circumstances, could ignite and lead to much more serious and destructive effects than regular fires.An ecosystem-based approach to land management and disaster risk reduction should take into account the historical and scientific evidence of ecosystem fire risk dynamics. Controlled combustion techniques have been developed for most types of ecosystems globally.
However, the problem is that the experience gained by the scientific community and the proposed solutions for fire management are reluctant to be taken into account by managers.
UNISDR: What is the contribution of science to reducing fire hazards, and what tools are being used to reduce those risks?
JG: Fire science and related sciences studying the effects of fire on the environment and people have shown significant progress in recent decades. Today we have comprehensive knowledge about the ecological role of fire in all vegetation zones. We know the consequences of excessive use of fire, for example in converting rainforests or peatlands to other land use systems, and their impact on the atmosphere and climate.The effects of air pollution from biomass combustion on human health are considered from the same perspective as the impact of forest fires on human safety. Curricula have been developed for academic preparation, as well as guidelines for decision-makers and practitioners.
However, we see that the scientific community has failed to reach the policy and decision-makers community. In many European countries, the lack of specialized doctrines – both legally and culturally – discourages and hinders the use of existing opportunities and innovation.Optimizing the use of these opportunities and the application of innovation (whether institutional or technological innovation) is generally ineffective and often impossible without first creating incentives to encourage new changes in operational capabilities and culture. Literally and figuratively, the landscapes affected by this situation are:
– Natural landscapes;
– Cultural landscapes;
– Industrial landscapes;
– Administrative landscapes.
In these cases, it is imperative to improve the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) so that appropriate policies and operating parameters are set to select and encourage all forms of innovation, both within and outside these landscapes.
UNISDR: Portugal was hit by extreme fires in early summer, later the same thing happened in the south of France. What lessons have been learned from these fires in the context of prevention and cooperation?
J.M.G .: In June 2017, Portuguese firefighters and rescuers worked in an emergency mode. Sixty-three people were killed, many of whom were trapped in their cars while trying to leave the areas engulfed in fire, another 245 people were injured; one firefighter was killed and 13 firefighters were injured. A large number of buildings, various structures and vehicles in more than 20 settlements were burned or damaged. The fire was subsequently found to have disrupted the basic communications infrastructure at an early stage, thus limiting access to information and the sending of requests for assistance for some communities; it was also noted that a large number of simultaneous calls to the emergency call center 112 simply overloaded it, i.e.That is, many subscribers were unable to contact dispatchers to ask for help, messages about fire traps were delayed, etc.
Events in Portugal resembled the very devastating wildfires in Chile in January and February 2017, which evacuated about 10,000 people, burned or damaged about 3,000 structures, killed six people, 394 were injured, and seven firefighters and police officers were killed. , 13 were injured. Chile’s international assistance was of high symbolic and diplomatic value, but was largely ineffective and demonstrated the limitations faced by cross-border and international assistance in emergencies.
These extreme fires occur repeatedly from year to year, despite the technological modernization of fire and rescue services. It is clear that fire policy is not aimed at addressing the causes and factors that contribute to the transformation of landscapes into more fire hazardous, and society more vulnerable to fire. In Portugal and elsewhere, an increase in the risk of wildfires – in addition to the rural abandonment mentioned above – is due to the increased use of fast-growing tree species in industry, for example, an increase in the number of exotic and fire-prone eucalyptus and pine plantations.The danger of fires in these plantations is well known.
It can be argued that the reduction of losses from wildfires can be achieved by a simple economic calculation and that the fight against them is attributed to the responsibility of the plantation industry. However, the extreme fires of June 2017 show that the uncontrolled invasion of developed tree species into the landscape outside the plantations poses a high risk to villagers and tourists. A modern highway, seemingly safe for travel and traffic, can become a death trap in a fire.
The closure of such highways under threat of fire or the timely evacuation of settlements may be another response to dangerous developments. However, such measures would be comparable to the technological race to find better technologies to reduce the impact of fires, i.e. they will not reduce the risk of wildfires per se.
How to solve the problem? Cross-sectoral landscape-based planning and cross-sectoral fire management planning appear to be the best approach to solving the problem.However, it is also necessary to abandon the practice of neglecting the problems of rural areas. Implementation of the green economy principles is essential for the revitalization, sustainability and security of rural areas in Europe and elsewhere. The creation of green jobs can be very attractive for future generations, but for these jobs to be competitive, government subsidies are required. Environmentally friendly soil, environmentally friendly methods of its processing and their benefits come at a price.The Rovaniem Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy, which was initiated by the UNECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry, the World Food Organization and the European Forestry Commission in 2013, illustrates how these targets can be met.
UNISDR: How should European governments work together, and what are the main steps to be taken to reduce the impact of hot weather and high temperature fires?
J.Corey: Globally, there is no legally binding agreement that regulates goals and obligations for fire management. Volunteer networks such as the Global Wildfire Network or the International Wildlife Preparedness Mechanism, both under the Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction Framework 2015-2030, are the first step towards building shared responsibility. and action. There are three regional organizations in Europe that work in the area of wildfire risks:
– Council of Europe, representing 47 member states.Under the Euro-Mediterranean High Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA), it operates through two “dedicated Euro-Mediterranean centers” – the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), based in Germany, and the European Center for Forest Fire (ECFF), based in Greece. EUR-OPA provided resources for the establishment of two regional fire monitoring centers in Southeast Europe / South Caucasus (Skopje, FYROM) and in Eastern Europe (Kiev, Ukraine). The main focus: promoting science-policy interaction in the regions and building the capacity of rural communities in fire management, for example, through the “Guidelines for the protection of the village”.
– The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), representing 57 participating States, supports the development of a national fire management policy. In 2015, the OSCE supported the establishment of the Central Asia Fire Management Resource Center (based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia). Focus: Building on a Ministerial Council decision since 2014, the OSCE, through its Economic and Environmental Dimension (“Second Dimension”), promotes the development of national fire management policies and interagency cooperation in this area, as well as the development of agreements on streamlining standards for effective and efficient cooperation and interoperability in transboundary fire management.
– The European Commission, representing 28 member countries, provides the European Fire Information System (EFFIS) and Civil Protection Mechanism (CPM) through its operational Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC). Focus: Providing information and data on biomass burns, and mediating to coordinate the response of participating countries in the event of a crisis.
Essentially: the aim of the Council of Europe and the OSCE to take into account the changing socio-economic, political and environmental conditions affecting the risk of wildfires in member states and to contribute to building national and regional fire management capacities.
UNISDR: How are the Global Fire Monitoring Center and affiliate helping to mitigate these new heightened fire risks?
JG: In 2010, GFMC began decentralization and began to support the creation of regional centers working in the field of fire management in 14 regions of the world. In July 2017, we opened the 4th Regional Fire Management Resource Center based in Indonesia and in charge of Southeast Asia. This center will operate using the experience of two European centers and the Central Asian Center, established between 2010 and 2017.Two more regional fire management resource centers will open in 2017-18 in Latin America and the Central Eurasian region.
Rules of conduct
The main causes of wildfires are: an unextinguished cigarette, a burning match, a smoldering wad after a shot, an oil rag or rags, a glass bottle that refracts rays of sunlight, sparks from a vehicle muffler, burning old grass, debris near a forest or peat bog, clearing forest areas with fire for agricultural use or arranging forest pastures.But one of the main potential sources of wildfires is the bonfire. In some cases, wildfires are the result of deliberate arson, man-made accidents or disasters.
Every summer forest fires start with a desperate inevitability. You can’t get used to it. Forests have been recovering for decades. If you have ever seen a forest fire, you will never forget this terrible picture.
Specialists EMERCOM of Russia give recommendations on what to do if you are in a forest fire zone.
To avoid fires, it is necessary to follow the rules of conduct in the forest
In order to prevent fires in the natural environment, it is prohibited:
- to throw burning matches, cigarette butts, smoldering rags in the forest;
- to make a fire in dense thickets and young coniferous stands, under low-hanging tree crowns, next to warehouses of timber, peat, in the immediate vicinity of mature crops;
- leave spontaneously combustible material in the forest: a rag and rags soaked in oil, gasoline, glassware, which in sunny weather can focus the sun’s beam and ignite dry vegetation;
- to burn dry grass in forest glades, in gardens, in fields, under trees;
- set fire to the reed;
- make a fire in windy weather and leave it unattended;
- Leave the fire burning after leaving the parking lot.
If you find yourself near a fire in a forest or in a peat bog
If you find yourself near a fire in a forest or in a peat bog and you cannot cope with its localization, preventing the spread and extinguishing of the fire on your own, warn everyone immediately nearby people () special services) about the need to leave the danger zone. Organize their access to a road or clearing, a wide clearing, to the bank of a river or reservoir, in a field.Move out of the danger area quickly, perpendicular to the direction of the fire. If it is impossible to escape the fire, enter the pond or cover yourself with wet clothing. Going out into an open space or clearing, breathe air near the ground – there it is less smoky, while covering your mouth and nose with a cotton-gauze bandage or rag.
After leaving the fire zone, report the location, size and nature of the fire to the administration of the settlement, forestry or fire fighting service, as well as the local population.Know the warning signals about the approach of the fire zone to the settlement and take part in organizing the extinguishing of fires.
Small ground fires can be knocked down by engulfing it with branches of hardwood, flooding it with water, throwing it in wet soil, trampling it with your feet. Peat fires are extinguished by digging up burning peat with watering. When extinguishing a fire, proceed with caution, do not go far from roads and clearings, do not lose sight of other participants, maintain visual and sound communication with them.When extinguishing a peat fire, keep in mind that deep funnels can form in the combustion zone, so you should move carefully, having previously checked the depth of the burnt layer.
How to provide first aid to a victim
Smoke and fire: why are forests burning in Russia? | News | OTR
With the onset of warm days, forest fires began in Russia. A special fire regime was introduced in 12 regions: in Lipetsk, Ulyanovsk, Kemerovo, Saratov and other regions.They plan to deny access to forests in Transbaikalia and the Vladimir region.
According to statistics, 80-90% of fires are caused by human factors. OTR was told about this by the head of the FBU Avialesokhrana Nikolay Krivosheev.
“From year to year we step on the same rake. Spring comes – out of habit, out of carelessness, for some reason, this grass begins to fall, dead in the common people called. Which then enters the same settlements.Buildings and structures suffer, people suffer, and ultimately remain homeless. And this happens from year to year, no matter what you do with it “, – said the expert.
According to Krivosheev, most forest fires occur due to the transfer of fire from agricultural lands, where grass is burned. This is despite the fact that the law prohibits burning stubble and grassland. The expert explained that one of the fire prevention methods is mowing.
“Why not mow in the fall? Why not plow the village? This is all spelled out today, and this should be done by municipalities.Burning dry stubble is an extreme measure that should be carried out by specialized institutions ”, – said the interlocutor.
Krivosheev also recalled that for violation of the fire regime, citizens can be brought to administrative or even criminal liability: “Penalties start from 1.5 thousand. But if, all of a sudden, it is found to be the culprit of the fire and there is certain damage, the fines are very serious there.If the damage is up to 3 million, there will be criminal liability from 3 to 10 years ”.See also The small people of Karelia demand to stop deforestation
Earlier, OTR reported that on Thursday in the village of Pershkovo in the Vladimir region, firefighters liquidated open burning of houses. 11 suburban buildings burst into flames due to unauthorized felling of dry grass and branches. MI-8 of the Ministry of Emergency Situations was involved in extinguishing. He dumped more than 5 tons of water.
“I have never seen such a thing” Forest fires are raging in Karelia.How local residents survive in the midst of the fire element: Society: Russia: Lenta.ru
Forest fires are raging in Karelia – their area has already exceeded 15 thousand hectares and is constantly growing. Local residents admit that they have not seen this before. The fire goes both on the ground and underground – huge deposits of peat smolder. At the request of Lenta.ru, photographer Sergei Stroitelev went to the very center of blazing Karelia and wrote about who and how is trying to save what can still be saved.
Somewhere near Essoila – a village 150 kilometers from Petrozavodsk – on a small road, a dozen men are trying to defeat a fire that destroyed forests on an area larger than the capital of the republic.
They start up an oncoming fire, in other words, they “anneal”, leaving scorched earth in the path of the fire. This helps to quickly secure a large piece of land, and most importantly – the villages located next to the road.
Just a few hundred meters away people live who may lose their home and land.
Several vehicles are on site – a fire engine, a water carrier and a mobile forest protection station. The horizon is not visible in the dust and smoke from the conflagration, the road goes several kilometers ahead.
The Petrozavodsk specialists who work here strongly resemble a rock band: tattoos, beards and strong excitement mixed with adrenaline. “Pull your sleeve, we’ll extinguish it here, and then we’ll go to burn it right up to the very end,” – comes from afar.
“This is a greedy fire, it takes everything away,” says instructor Maxim. – I have never seen such a thing, he is dodgy like a snake, he jumped from one side to the other several times – and that’s it, after that you can’t hold it. And it’s so difficult to work with our local wind and changeable weather. ”
Maxim “anneals” with the help of a combustible mixture, moving quickly and confidently near the edge, followed by a machine with a pump – it is very important to extinguish the edge after annealing.After the water is on the burning peat, thick and dense clouds of smoke burst into the air.
Men greedily drink water – heat and conflagration. It is impossible to stand nearby, the temperatures are off scale, there is simply nothing to breathe. The fact that firefighters are killed by fire is a myth. The fact is that the fire burns up all the oxygen, and asphyxiation becomes the cause of death.
The wind blew in our direction, and the whole group was covered with a thick cloud of burning. Maxim laughed: this is still nonsense, friend, it has happened even worse in ten years of service.
I ran out of the cloud in order to breathe a little, and on the road I saw a line of soldiers – they were guarding the edge so that the fire would not jump to the other side. They were pulled up quite recently – 100 people, extra hands and eyes will not hurt.
Denis – volunteer, works on the fire for four days. When he goes home, he will go to the forest protection. He’s already made an appointment for a physical.
“The earth calls me to some kind of service. You can’t earn much money there, but experience. And you will save people and the forest, and one more thing is adrenaline, ”he says.
Towards evening we arrive at the camp (the camp, as the aviation security officers call it).
Girl Vita in a cap and pink flip-flops is talking on the phone without interruption – she is the coordinator. With her husband Sasha, they live on the outskirts of the village of Kudama. The house of Vita and Sasha is in the forest, and if the fire went on, everything would have burned down:
– We decided to act, because we simply could not evacuate – we have dogs (they breed hounds), and we even take them where – or, in any case, they could not establish their everyday life, so they decided to use all the knowledge, even from the lessons of life safety.
The first days we had panic and fear. We tried to call, but they told us: there is no equipment, there will be no helicopters, since there is no serious danger. Although how can this be if there are four kilometers left in a dry forest to the house? We ourselves took a tractor, began to plow strips, gather local residents for defense.
Thank God, at the moment when we thought that Kudam would have to be defended ourselves, we saw the guys from the air forestry – it was immediately clear that they knew what they were doing.As a result, the fire was removed from the village. But the fire turned out to be serious. They also pulled up the military, organized groups of volunteers. We are all terribly tired, exhausted, but we cannot leave this, since we really need a link with the local population. Maybe someone could, but did not want to take on this burden .
Near the tabor there is a field kitchen. It is run by local residents and volunteers from Petrozavodsk.
“Put more potatoes, otherwise they will not gorge themselves otherwise, the soup must be thicker!” – shouts Baba Vera.She’s in charge here.
Baba Vera also lives nearby, and she and her daughter cook every day. 70-100 servings for each meal is hard work, without which there would be no field kitchen:
– All this is new to us, we have not had such fires. My father was a forester, I remember that everything was somehow quickly extinguished before. And there was even an identification mark on our house, the plane was guided by it, which threw out a pennant with information on which quarter the fire was taking place.Now the forestry has fallen into disrepair. There were ten of them only for one Kudoma, and now there is one forester – a woman for four villages. Where does it go? There is no one to watch the forest, it turns out like this.
When they saw that the forest was burning, they were very frightened, several hearths were visible from the shore. It was scary – not to convey! When the fire came, for the first three nights we did not sleep at all, our things were ready for evacuation. And we prayed – I am a believer – and our men dug trenches on their own equipment.In general, the whole village was there, without the locals they would not have coped with it in the first days. And this lake – Syamozero – also translates as a lake of weather. A difficult place, unpredictable, a lot of things can bring bad things. Maybe you remember how the children drowned here, it happened on all channels, such a tragedy … .
After a hard day, the men gather around the fire. Silence, eat.
“I heard that the volunteers went there alone today, they said they were going to see where the edge ends, for reconnaissance,” says one of them.- The one in sneakers fell into the peat and burned his legs. Well, how so? Who lets them walk around here? And these vacationers got it – they introduced an emergency situation, but they either do not hear, or do not understand the Russian language, and it is useless to argue with those who have drunk, and then it can inadvertently come to assault. ”
“Who else can go? There will not be enough of us for all, but we are not enough for one or two, new people do not come, there is no succession of generations, ”another responds.
“If only it would rain fine, tedious, for two days or three days, we call it a bliss, it wets the soil perfectly, it won’t burn,” they are discussing at the table.”And what is dripping now can make it even worse: it gives even more oxygen, and only give it to the fire to eat.”
The road to Rugu, another threatened village, is completely empty. The fire split it in two. On the right side there is a burnt-out cemetery. Burnt, smoked graves. The fire does not care what it burns.
There is a fire hose at the entrance to the village, the locals expect the worst.
Oleg lives right next to the entrance.
“It was scary for the village when they saw the fire – they started grabbing buckets and running there, walking along the road and watered them,” he says.- In the evenings the smoke beats to the ground, we leave the house – the car is not visible and there is nothing to breathe. All the time we think that we are on fire. There are also some kind of dumb, underground fires. Our peat is deep, once even a cow fell through, even before the fires, and now it all burns out. We told this to one large forest guard, but he let it go, only laughed. ”
Local resident Lyudmila goes out to guard the edge several times every day. She perfectly remembers how the fire approached the cemetery and how it broke out.
“We started calling 112, many places,” she says. – The dispatcher told me: when you see a fire in the village, only then call. There was a feeling that everything was lost. There was still no equipment, only three fire engines were sent three days later. The services were simply not ready. ”
“Our heels were already burning, it was impossible to open our eyes, there were rags on the windows so as not to suffocate, and to us -“ everything is extinguished here, ”Lyudmila complains. – How so? Every day I go to patrol the road, because this is my home, I was born here “
Inhabitants of Ruga accompanied me in all small numbers so that the bear would not eat it.Oleg with a shovel put out the steaming peat with sand from the road.
Smoke from the conflagration covered the northern regions of Karelia, including Suoyarvsky and Segezhsky. I was dropped off in the forest, not far from Naistenjärvi, a village where several barns had recently burned down, and the locals were evacuated to neighboring settlements.
I was met by a tall man in a colored kerchief on his head. “Who sent you here? Mossad? ” – he asked.
Nikolay – fire leader. Its task is to coordinate the actions of forces on the spot.At the moment, the federal forest protection department from Yoshkar-Ola is working here. Feds are discharged to the place if the regional service does not have enough resources. “Get into the UAZ, let’s go for reconnaissance,” the driver shouts. I jump with five guys into a back full of water knapsacks, helmets, annealing mixtures and shovels.
Suojärvi district is not famous for its smooth roads. Through the dust that gets into the back of the car, you can’t see the person sitting opposite, it gets into your mouth and crunches on your teeth.The guys laugh: “We are already used to it, but now you will beat off your whole tailbone and breathe for the year ahead.”
They say that it is impossible to lay asphalt roads here – the soil is shaking. I am being brought up to date:
– We are generally avialesoohrana, we land on a turntable, and the sooner the better. We are being transported to the place, and we must quickly contain the fire. You go down and walk like a donkey with a shovel. Now there are no resources for flights – there is only one turntable in Petrika (Petrozavodsk), and we arrived a little late, so we work with what we have and how it turns out.
At first, several tens of hectares burned, but now the total area in Karelia is more than 2000 (at the time of writing the material, the area of the fire exceeded 15 thousand hectares – approx. “Lenta.ru” ). If only forest protection had worked, without volunteers, the scale would have been much greater. I say exactly.
Now tactics are very important: it is necessary to establish the scale of a forest fire and find its “head” in order to understand how to act – whether to extinguish, anneal, where and what forces to throw.At the moment, it was possible to drive off the fire from the settlements, but the element is an unpredictable thing, and you need to be prepared for anything.
The terrain and smoke are clearly visible from the quarry.
“It burns about a kilometer away, no further, it’s better to bother it here,” says one of the specialists. The guys decide to go down the slope to the smoldering forest. The sun’s rays make their way through the crowns of trees, lingonberry and blueberry bushes are buried in smoke.
Specialists unwind fire hoses, pump water from a small forest lake with a pump, and decide to burn off the section to the stream in order to quickly localize the point.
“In general, annealing should be reasonable, we should try to preserve as much of the forest as possible, it is simply impossible sometimes. All this requires tactics and good planning, ”says Sergey, a team leader with 30 years of work experience, at a halt.
Other guys say that the film “Fire” with Khabensky was shot based on his story. In the film, the whole family of the protagonist was related to forest protection, and so was Sergei: his younger brother Sasha is in his group, and his cousin missed this business trip, but usually always in the cage.
Sergey stood at the origins of the Russian forest protection and not only extinguishes fires, but also teaches young growth.
“Annealing has its own nuances, they even come in different types,” he says. – Sometimes you specifically stand behind a young man and say how and where to anneal. Here and the wind must be taken into account, and the type of trees and soil. Sometimes it is easier to anneal yourself if the situation is critical, although I have already run over 30 years – the joints are not the same. And I saw a lot of these situations.
The guys died. I myself clung several times when disembarking – once I hung on three trees, I thought everything – cranks
In general, I love the service, and my wife is proud, although she is worried.The only insulting thing is what happened to the aviation security service in recent years. ”
“Yes, but do you remember how the Buryats launched an oncoming attack on us? We almost burned down our camp, we used to pour soup over our things so that they would not burn out, so we still cannot get compensation from them, ”says his younger brother and hands me a can of saury.
He smiles: “Drink some juice from a can, everything is spent on us. I remember my first serious business trip to Chukotka. There we were thrown into the forest, and the sky was covered with smoke, the turntable could not fly to us – we were sitting without food.Things have already been collected, you just sit and look at the sky – you wait for the pick up. They ate the berries and survived. For us, starving is the norm, it is not clear what conditions you will find yourself in. This business trip is not yet the most difficult, at least there are roads and settlements nearby, but in any case we eat everything. ”
When the elder brother brought Sasha to the forestry, he was 13 years old. At his first fire, he wore belongings, and then, six years later, he followed in the footsteps of Sergei.
The sun is hotter. I see yellow helmets burning under the rays, flashing among the tree trunks.A detachment of the Ministry of Emergency Situations is passing by, asking for water in knapsacks for extinguishing.
One of them – Elena – was born in a local village, but moved to Ryazan. On holidays, he always sends his daughter to her grandmother in her small homeland. When I found out that it was burning, I immediately rushed to the rescue.
“The forest around the village is not cleaned, it is littered with dead wood, the plots are littered with garbage. It all burns just like that! No to cut down and plant with fresh meat! And the local population is not allowed to touch a single stick – they put a sign “property of this and that”, ”she explains.
Tatiana and Dmitry came from Petrozavodsk. “Not only are the forest being destroyed, cut down, but also fires,” Tatyana wipes sweat from her forehead. – The authorities cannot really do anything, so they volunteered, as it is hard to look at it with indifference. If someone wants to sit on the internet, read correspondence, then ok, but this is not help. If you want to help, you have to go and do it. All right, let’s click and leave, we have to work, and if you stay, take a bucket and extinguish. ”
We arrived at the camp after an hour of shaking in the back, drowning in road dust.The camp of guys from Yoshkar-Ola consists of two small camps with bonfires, around which there are well-worn ankle boots. After unloading, the men run to pour cold water over them. Seryozha shouts: “Eh-eh-eh! This is some water! Bliss! These are the moments I love, well, extreme too! “.
By nightfall, I was accommodated in a local school, where the headquarters of the Ministry of Emergencies and the military were located. I walked past the beds with young soldiers sleeping without hind legs. All this is reminiscent of wartime, and therefore not at ease.
The village of Naistenjärvi is divided into two parts by a railway.The central part is equipped for the operational headquarters – all equipment is deployed there. The outskirts are completely residential and were badly damaged in a fire. The fire almost got close to residential buildings, forcing the elderly population to evacuate, and young men to pick up buckets and defend their land. It was like that in the early days.
No more than a thousand people live in the village, and no more than two hundred in the affected part. Half of the wooden houses are abandoned and abandoned, and the remaining people are very difficult to find – they are hiding from the scorching sun and smoke.
In the center of the village, the Gnome store stands sadly, opposite is an empty playground.
The feeling of wartime does not leave. Fire hoses are stretched everywhere and mine strips (fire-fighting mineralized strips) are dug. It seems as if shelling has just happened here or a column of tanks has passed.
Behind the fence – an elderly man:
– I live here with my wife. This is her parents’ house. We have been living here for 14 years. It appears that I just came from the watch, I work as a crusher, and I saw this.I don’t remember anything like that, that the fire got so close to the village. The worst thing was every morning, from ten o’clock in the morning the wind rises, and everything starts all over again – fire, smoke …
I refused to evacuate, although there was nothing to breathe at all. I stayed for the sake of the house, because if the house burns down, it’s not interesting at all. By the way, thanks to the emcheesniks, although they do not extinguish forest fires, they helped with the watch – they stood around the clock. We sat near the edge. Guys from the Nevsky unit. Okay, we will survive, we will overgrow, the berries will go.
Galina is 75 years old, she lives in a village about 60 of them, she worked all her life in a local store:
– I was driving from Leningrad, with an operation late in the evening. On the way, they called me and said that a fire had started. I looked through the windows of the train – fires were already visible. And the next day I was already evacuated. I was very worried that the house would burn down, and my cat with it. God! God bless everyone who saved our homes, but if the locals listened and arrived on time, none of this would have happened.
A young man named Alexander was also at the very edge when the fire was extinguished. “I saw how the boy from the Ministry of Emergency Situations lost consciousness – he breathed in smoke. It was hard for everyone there. Pour water into your boots so as not to set fire to your heels, and forward along the burning peat. My dad evacuated people from the village, by the way. The grave of his ex-wife was burnt in the cemetery. When he got there and saw the burning graves, he almost fainted ”.
“We saw with my parents how clouds of black smoke poured from the side of the forest.The next day we received a text message about the evacuation, but we did not go – we were too afraid for housing, we had something to lose. We started calling all numbers. They said that the headquarters was working, we had everything under control, that there were 34 pieces of equipment, but there was nothing at all – two firefighters, and that was all. We were there – we saw it with our own eyes. The locals pulled themselves up: shovel in hand – and went to dig. The fire came close to our house, another 30 meters and would have burned down, ”says Evgeny.
It’s scary to live with the feeling that your house might burn down today, almost everyone here talks about it.But they simply have no other choice but to go into the fire, on smoking peat and risk their health or even their lives. This is a terrible situation when you can lose everything for which you worked all your life.
Extinguishing forest fires is a very complex thing. This is a tangle of human stories – opinions, mistakes and heroic deeds, a living organism that exists at the expense and with the help of initiative people, without whom the whole world would have been aflame long ago.
Sergey Stroitelev, Karelia
Natural fires – Khvalovskoye rural settlement
July 30, 2021
Rules of conduct
The main causes of wildfires: an unextinguished cigarette, a burning match, a smoldering glass wad after a shot or an oil rag a bottle that refracts rays of sunlight, sparks from a vehicle muffler, burning old grass, debris near a forest or peat bog, clearing forest areas for agricultural use or arranging forest pastures with fire.But one of the main potential sources of wildfires is the bonfire. In some cases, wildfires are the result of deliberate arson, man-made accidents or disasters.
Every summer forest fires start with a desperate inevitability. You can’t get used to it. Forests have been recovering for decades. If you have ever seen a forest fire, you will never forget this terrible picture.
Specialists EMERCOM of Russia give recommendations on what to do if you are in a forest fire zone.
To avoid the outbreak of fires, it is necessary to observe the rules of conduct in the forest.
In order to prevent fires in the natural environment, it is prohibited:
· to throw burning matches, cigarette butts, smoldering rags in the forest;
· to make a fire in dense thickets and young coniferous stands, under low-hanging tree crowns, next to timber and peat warehouses, in the immediate vicinity of mature crops;
· leave spontaneously combustible material in the forest: a rag and rags soaked in oil, gasoline, glassware, which in sunny weather can focus the sunbeam and ignite dry vegetation;
· to burn dry grass in forest glades, in gardens, in fields, under trees;
· set fire to reeds;
· make a fire in windy weather and leave it unattended;
· leave the fire burning after leaving the parking lot.
If you are near a fire in a forest or in a peat bog
If you find yourself near a fire in a forest or in a peat bog and you are unable to cope with its localization, prevent the spread and extinguish the fire on your own, warn all nearby people immediately (special services) on the need to leave the danger zone. Organize their access to a road or clearing, a wide clearing, to the bank of a river or reservoir, in a field. Move out of the danger area quickly, perpendicular to the direction of the fire.If it is impossible to escape the fire, enter the pond or cover yourself with wet clothing. Going out into an open space or clearing, breathe air near the ground – there it is less smoky, while covering your mouth and nose with a cotton-gauze bandage or rag.
After leaving the fire zone, report the location, size and nature of the fire to the administration of the settlement, forestry or fire fighting service, as well as the local population. Know the warning signals about the approach of the fire zone to the settlement and take part in organizing the extinguishing of fires.
Small ground fires can be knocked down by engulfing it with branches of hardwood, flooding it with water, throwing it in wet soil, trampling it with your feet. Peat fires are extinguished by digging up burning peat with watering.