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27 Aug, 2007 06:06

Forest fire kills two in Crimea

Forest fire has killed two people in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, near the resort town of Alupka. It started as a call for help that went drastically wrong.

According to reports, a man got lost in a mountain forest preserve near the town of Alupka. And in order to attract the attention of potential rescuers, he started a fire.

Within minutes, his little bonfire turned into a blaze devouring hundreds of square meters of woodland.

“We know for sure the human factor was the cause of the fire. Rescuers have detained a man who made a fire at the top of a mountain. The fire then spread down the mountain and set the forest on fire. The worst thing about it is that it killed the forester and his wife. We were not able to get to them due to the fire wall and found the bodies only in the morning,” Igor Katsai, Crimean Forest and Hunting Committee representative, commented.   

In addition to the deaths, two Emergencies Ministry officers were injured trying to put out the conflagration. The man who set the fire is now in police custody.

Very hot weather and high winds caused the fire to spread so rapidly.

Ukraine's Emergency Ministry has sent special aircraft and helicopters to the scene.

Firefighters have been working to extinguish the blaze. The fire has overtaken more than 70 hectares of relict forest. They say the fire does not threaten any town or village in the area.

“There are 1,000 people working to put out the fire. Mostly emergency crews, firemen, Navy units and police. The Minister has ordered to use aircraft to extinguish the fire,  and a helicopter has already dropped water. Now we are expecting two more planes. There is no threat to the life and heath of the tourists in the area at the moment. We have not been able to localise the fire, but we are putting all our efforts into this,” Vladimir Ivanov,  Aide to the Chief of Ukraine’s Emergencies Ministry, said.