No smoke without fire

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 15:23 | Posted in Estonia, Finland, helsinki, russia, tallinn | Leave a comment

I have been wondering all day if I might have been a bit careless with my cigarettes because I smell some smoke. But it does not smell like tobacco. Much more like something actually burning.

Now I have evidence that I have not suddenly become grazy. It is smoke, that of some terrestrial fires in Russia. They have been going on for several days.

ETV 24 reports that altogether 12.440 hectares of wood is burning in Russia. 413 of those hectares are burning in the northwestern Russian territories close to the Finnish border.

I heard in the radio this morning that there was thick smoke in the air in central Tallinn. The city’s web site publishes fresh air quality measurement results every hour. And now Helsingin Sanomat writes that the sun was momentarily behind smoke clouds in central Helsinki this morning.

The Russian authorities are concentrating their fire fighting efforts to populated areas. Since the areas close to the border have practically no inhabitants, the only thing I can hope is that the wind would take another direction. Or massive rain to fall over northwestern Russia.

YLE 24 writes that the Russian Emergency Ministry has responded to an inquiry of the Finnish government that the fires should soon be under control. The ministry does not consider it to be likely that assistance of Finnish firefighters would be necessary. However, says the ministry, should any help be needed, the Finns will exceptionally be allowed to cross the border wiothout a visa.

This is definitely something extraordinary. Being familiar with the Russian bureaucracy, I would have imagined that the fire engines would have been forced to wait at the border untill proper visas were issued. Who could even dream of extinguishing a fire without doing the proper paper work first?

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