News Society, 04/09/2020

Wildfires in Kharkiv Region Unite Ukrainians

“On September 2 at 12.55 pm, the fire started in Novomoskovsk military forestry between Bashkyrivka and Kochetok in Chuhuiv district, Kharkiv region,” informs Ihor Lupandin, assistant to the head of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv region.

According to various estimates, the fire covered from 10 to 20 hectares. Rescuers reported that reeds, grass and ground of coniferous trees were on fire. Overall, 211 people and 19 units of equipment were involved in the firefighting, including 24 rescuers and five units of equipment from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

“Another epicenter of fire was reported in Dvorichne forestry near Horobivka village, Kharkiv region, which increased from 80 hectares to 500 hectares. As a result, 22 houses were destroyed, 33 people were resettled,” informs the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) press service. Due to the gusts of wind, the fire began to spread to the tops of trees. There was a threat of flames spreading to nearby Hrianynivka village from where people were evacuated.

Village residents lost nearly all their farm animals and pets. Only a few dogs and cats left, some of them burnt their paws. About 15 adults and 10 baby nutrias survived hiding in the pool.

According to the Head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration Oleksiy Kucher, more than 50 people were evacuated from the spot of wildfires.

The MIA press service informs that 395 people and 61 units of equipment were involved in the firefighting, 215 rescuers and 49 units of equipment from the State Emergency Service, two fire-fighting aircraft and one helicopter.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure press-service, two fire-fighting trains were also involved.

As of September 3, fire points have been put out and the fire is being extinguished completely.

Massive steppe and wildfires have been observed in Luhansk region for the second consecutive day. The first fires were recorded near Shchastya – Lobachevo – Lopaskine – Trokhizbenka which are located on the frontline. As the fire was detected in several places at once, it can be reported on arson.

During firefighting in Luhansk region, sergeant Artem Bondarenko was found dead. He died while he was trying to evacuate military equipment from the fire.

The police opened a criminal proceeding under Article 270 “Violation of Requirements of Fire Safety Established by the Legislation” of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Since the outset of the fire, volunteers joined firefighting. Oleh Skrypnik, a journalist, saw a post on Facebook that both professional and volunteer firefighters are shorthanded. Together with his two friends, he made a decision to give a helping hand. When young men arrived on the spot, they joined a group of 30-35 people. Firstly, they were helping and laughing but when they got closer to the epicenter of the fire, it was hard to breathe and to see clearly due to the thick smoke. They had to use branches to fight the fire as there were not enough spades.

“We began to put out the fire with branches and throw soil into the fire with spades. But the problem is that it is coniferous forest, and as we were doing it the fire rekindled because of the dry needles in the soil,” Oleh recalls.

Volunteers faced a problem and a tractor driver plowed the land so that the fire would not spread to other areas, and thus gave them the opportunity to throw fire with the soil.

All sorts of people joined the fight: representatives of the Fraikor ultra-right organization, two candidates for deputies, combatants and other people who couldn’t pass by a disaster.

There were real heroes like Serhii Teslenko, a tractor driver, who got into a tractor without thinking and plowed near houses during the fire. This way, he localized the spread of fire and saved at least 20 houses. On September 3, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine awarded Serhii the medal “For Assistance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”

While people who lost their homes are waiting for compensation from the government, volunteers started raising aid for fire victims. Alla Roytblat appealed to Ukrainians to collect clothes, food and utensils. All needed are getting the required items from all over the country.

As of September 4, the volunteer informs that all necessary aid was collected.

“Was it scary? Yes, it was. It was hard but necessary. If you can help – you should help. You will not lose anything but you can save someone’s house,” adds Oleh.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo: railinsider.com.ua, eadaily.com, 2day.kh.ua, 057.ua, mvs.gov.ua, Kharkiv Today