BAKU, Azerbaijan, September 2. The number of wildfires has recently increased in Azerbaijan despite the regular awareness-raising activities of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and other authorized structures, Trend reports.
This summer also witnessed a spike in forest fires, which have mainly been caused by humans. Dozens of forest hectares have been burned by wildfires due to the negligence of people or as a result of intentional arson.
Forest fires are mostly caused by imprudence of local and foreign tourists at the recreation areas. Another reason is that some set up charcoal kilns illegally in forest areas.
As Head of the State Fire Control Service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Major General Hikmat Abbasov told Trend, lots of educational and preventive measures have been conducted to stop the ongoing disaster.
"The primary objective of these activities was taking preventive measures against wildfires and urging fire safety awareness. Some farmers believe that the slash-and-burn agriculture following harvesting makes a considerable contribution to the soil fertilization. However, on the contrary, the fertile soil layer is being destroyed, minerals in it are getting smaller. Unfortunately, the numerous applied measures have not been fairly effective. In some cases, the ministry applies fines and makes warnings in accordance with the Code of Administrative Offenses,” he stressed.
Abbasov underscored that the negligence of people remains the main concern with relation to forest fires.
"For example, some negligent smokers throw cigarette butts on the ground without extinguishing them properly. In case of the rising air temperature above 40 degrees, roadside bushes may catch fire. Meanwhile, we regularly urge citizens not throw empty glass bottles on the side of the road. Fires can also occur as a result of focusing sunlight at high temperatures,” he said.
The head of the service noted that despite the existence of special 'picnic zones', some citizens organize picnics in places that are not intended for this. Bonfires here remain beyond control as citizens leave before the complete extinction of bonfires.
Furthermore, Abbasov outlined the facts of intentional arson.
"In 2022, more than ten facts of intentional arson were revealed. Among them are the deliberate fabrication of private agricultural lands, making campfires in the forest vicinity and leaving them unattended. In addition, 23 charcoal kilns for illegal production in forest areas were identified in 2022. People involved in this don't understand the possible consequences of their actions. During the corresponding period of the current year, 13 furnaces have been located by the State Fire Control Service. Their owners have been fined in accordance with the Code of Administrative Offenses and their cases have been sent to the relevant bodies for the adoption of legal measures,” he stated.
Abbasov once again urged citizens to observe fire safety measures when traveling to the country's regions, as well as to arrange picnics only in specially designated places, and not to leave fire unattended.
"Based on all appeals of Azerbaijani citizens to the Ministry of Emergency Situations about the fires, the call is immediately responded to. But in many cases, the information on the fire appears to be unreasonable, since not all these cases are qualified as a fire. For example, 1,264 cases of fires were recorded in 2022, while for the corresponding period of 2021, this figure amounted to 1,440. This is official statistics on fires,” Abbasov said.