Saturday, 16 June 2012

Wildfires ravage famed Siberian natural landmark

Russia’s renowned Siberian nature reserve Stolby has been struck by wildfires, which have scorched about 27 hectares of the protected area. Employees of the nature park have been fighting the blaze for two days without any help from professionals who are currently working in other fire-struck areas. On Friday evening, two fires in the nature reserve have been localized, but the reserve remains closed for visitors till June 22, according to an official website of the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry. There are currently two hot spots, 20 and 7 hectares each, in the nature reserve nominated for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. One of the fires has been burning near Kitaiskaya Stenka (the Wall of China); the other blaze has hit a location near the rocks named Zhaba (Toad), Tsypa (Chick) and Vorobushki (Little Sparrows). Seven staff members and 21 volunteers were monitoring the situation on Friday evening The nature reserve of over 47,000 hectares was founded in 1925 on request of local residents who later formed a whole movement Stolbism (Stone Pillar-ism) in the nearby city of Krasnoyarsk The name Stobly (Pillar) was adopted because of the rocky outcrops scattered around the area. Members of the movement – stolbists – come to the reserve for climbing and hiking. But the rocky outcrops have been affected by the blaze as well as the woodland, according to Sminrova. She said that some slopes were ablaze because of burning dry moss. The local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry arrived at the reserve on Friday after Smirnova’s persistent demands but didn’t stay long. The firefighters said the situation was under control and their help was more needed in other areas. “It’s a shame that they left – we would like some help with monitoring borders of fire-struck areas,” she said. The Emergency Ministry of the Krasnoyarsky Krai region said it was taking control of seven large-scale wildfires in the region. According to a local wildfires centre, there were 62 blazes on Friday evening with total area of 8645.3 hectares.

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