Stalking The Chernobyl Wildfire


  • 29/04/2020
  • Helga

The April Chernobyl wildfire is currently the largest we’ve experienced to date. Thanks to a collective effort from our reporters, firefighters, and CHERNOBYLwelcome guides, we’ve comprised a minute by minute breakdown on what happened. Find the latest info at the top of this article, though feel free to scroll to the bottom to find out how it all started.

[Est. 20:00] A new shift of firefighters have come to extinguish the rest of the fire.

[Est. 16:00] Some firefighters have already left the Zone and are going back home.

[Est. 14:00] Fire officials in Chernobyl are celebrating a landmark moment, saying that for the first time in what has been a series of horrendous 10 days, every fire in the Exclusion Zone is now under control.

[07:00] SES of Ukraine: 521 people and 124 pieces of equipment were recruited, including 410 people from the SES and 86 pieces of equipment, including 2 helicopters.

There is an occasional smoldering of grass decking, reeds and forest floor with separate flames of fire in the village Kryva Gora and the Yaniv Railway Station, between Poliske, villages Terraces and Volodymyrivka, near the villages Chistogalivka and Leliv in the territory of Korogodsky, Kotovsky, Denysovytsky, Paryshevsky and Lubyansky Forests.

No open fire is observed.

↑ 15th of April

[Est. 21:00] Firefighters in Chernobyl are reporting that the active fires have been extinguished, heavily assisted by the rain, though media from the Zone show otherwise.

[Est. 20:00] New fires were found in the village Kryva Hora of the Parishovsky Forestry and in the area of ​​railway station Yaniv of Lubianski Forestry.

[07:00] SES of Ukraine: The SES units assist DASV in extinguishing fires in the territory of Korogodsky, Dityatkovsky, Paryshevsky and Denysovets forests.

There is no open fire.

There is a slight smoldering of the forest floor with separate cells.

During April 13th, 227 discharges (538 tons of water) were carried out by fire aviation (3 planes, 3 helicopters).

In total, 415 people and 98 vehicles were involved in the Exclusion Zone territory, including more than 321 people and 66 vehicles from SES, including 3 planes and 3 helicopters.

Radiation background in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region is within normal limits and does not exceed natural background values ​​(Kyiv - 0,012 mR / h, and Kiev region within 0,011 mR / h with a permissible background of 0,05 mR / h).

↑ 14th of April

[21:36] Fire is around ChNPP. [VIDEO]

[Est. 20:00] Levels of radiation inside the building of the fire station at the ChNPP had increased because of the fires nearby. It’s 0,95 mcrSv/h.

[Est. 19:00] Summer Camp “Skazochnyi” partly burned.

Photo: Alexander Sirota

[Est. 18:00] Fire arrives to the village Ilovnytsa (16 km to city Chernobyl) and burnt it to ashes.

[Est. 17:00] Police in Kyiv region identified a man involved in another fire in the Chernobyl area. It was a 37-year-old local.

[16:00] Close call, fire arrives at the ChNPP. [VIDEO]

[Est. 15:00] Part of the Red Forest is on fire. [VIDEO]

[14:00] Another fire occurred in the Chernobyl area on the left bank of the river Pripyat.

[13:00] Fire has reached the borders of Pripyat and is located two kilometers directly from the Pidlisnyi radioactive waste storage facility, which houses the most highly active radiation waste of the entire Chernobyl Zone and from the Chernobyl NPP itself.

[11:00] Fire is visible from Pripyat. [VIDEO]

[10:00]  The Red Forest and the outskirts of the former settlement and the Yanov railway station are burning. The fire came very close to Pripyat and ChNPP. Wind is in the direction of Pripyat.

Source of images: NASA Official.

[07:00] Report SES of Ukraine: 366 people and 88 vehicles were involved, including 307 personnel and 63 units of the SES (including 3 AN-32P aircraft and 3 SES helicopters, which did 143 discharges - 370 tons of water on April 12th).

↑ 13th of April

[20:00] Firefighting activities are underway, namely: near the village Chistogalivka and the village Leliv in the territory of the Korogodsky Forestry there is a smoldering of the forest floor with separate fires. The main fires are located near the villages Varovichi and Chistogalivka.

[13:00] Fire is getting closer to ChNPP and Vector.

[09:00] Report SES of Ukraine: 353 men and 89 pieces of equipment were involved in extinguishing the fires, 294 men of personnel and 64 pieces of equipment (including 3 AN-32P aircraft and 2 SES helicopters, which made 107 discharges on April 11 - 250 tons of water).

Radiation background in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region is within normal limits and does not exceed natural background values (Kyiv - 0.013 mR / h, and Kiev region within 0.011 mR / h with a permissible background of 0.05 mR / h).

↑ 12th of April

[Est. 17:00] Agriculture technic (MTS) near Kopachi have burned down, trolley bus too. [VIDEO]

[Est. 15:00] “Emerald" is completely burned down.

Images by: Alexandr Sirota; Alexander Maksimov; Seth Gl

[Est. 13:00] Village Leliv is still burning. [VIDEO]

[Est. 12:00] Radiation background in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region is within normal limits and does not exceed natural background values (Kyiv - 0.013 mR / h, and Kiev region within 0.011 mR / h with a permissible background of 0.05 mR / h).

[07:00] Report from the SES of Ukraine: 312 people are involved in firefighting, including 257 vehicles and 59 units of equipment, including 3 aircraft and 3 helicopters, which produced 96 discharges - 240 tons of water on April 10th (AN - 32 aircraft carried 8 discharges - 64 tons of water and MI - 8 helicopters carried out 88 discharges - 176 tons of water).

↑ 11th of April

[Est. 19:00] Fire is near the Chernobyl Riverport.

[Est. 15:00] Fires are southwest of the power plant. The forest near the old Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is burning, and the effects are visible from space.

Image: Planet Labs Inc.

[Est. 11:30] Fire is now very close to the Chernobyl city.

Photos: Alexander Sirota, Head of the Public Council at the State Agency of Ukraine for the Exclusion Zone Management.

[Est. 10:00] Briefing meeting SAUEZM: The fire in the exclusion zone covered about 3.5 thousand hectares and caused tens of millions of hryvnias. The origin of the fire may include:

1.  The fire "came" in the exclusion zone from the Zhytomyr region from the side of the Drevlyany Reserve,

2. On the territory of the zone there are power lines, from which the spark could have arisen, which led to easy ignition of dry grass,

3. Intentional arson.

[09:00] SES of Ukraine: 379 people were involved in extinguishing fires along with 100 units equipment, of which 320 people and 79 units technology come from the SES (including 3 AN-32P aircraft and 2 SES helicopters, which produced 67 discharges on April 9th — 154 tons of water).

The radiation background in the city of Kyiv and the Kiev region is within normal limits and does not exceed natural background values (Kiev - 0.012 mR / h, Kiev region - within 0.011 mR / h with a permissible background level of 0.05 mR / h).

Chernobyl’s levels remain at 0.021 mR / h, at the Children's KDP of 0.01 mR / h at a control level of up to 0.055 mR / h).

↑ 10th of April

[Est. 20:00] Fire has arrived at the Checkpoint Leliv. All people were evacuated from the 10 km Exclusion Zone. [VIDEO]

The natural-color image above shows the fires on April 9th, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. NASA Visible Earth.

[15:00] Firefighters continue to fight the fire near DUGA. [VIDEO]

[07:00] SES of Ukraine: Observed near the village Chystogalivka in the territory of Korogodsk Forestry is smoldering of some spots in the total area of about 20 hectares.

310 personnel and 90 vehicles, including 225 persons and 56 vehicles from the SES, have been engaged in extinguishing the fire. On April 8th SES aircrafts performed 61 water drops (248 tons of water), including an AN-32P aircraft that performed 21 water drops (168 tons of water) and an Mi-8 helicopter that performed 40 water drops (80 tons of water).

Firefighters think it's an attempted arson attack.

The 10 km Zone is shut down.

↑ 9th of April

[Est. 20:00] Fire is visible from the ChNPP.

[Est. 12:00] Firefighters are trying to stop the fire, 400 metres from DUGA.

[11:06] Fire is near DUGA Radar.

[Est. 10:00] Fire has reached the 10 km Exclusion Zone.

↑ 8th of April

[22:00] Background radiation levels in Kyiv and the surrounding Kyiv region are within normal limits and do not exceed the natural background values.

[20:00] 136 people and 31 vehicles are involved in firefighting.

[14:15]  SES of Ukraine: Rescuers continue to fight the fire, 104 people and 26 units of equipment are involved in the extinguishing process, including one Mi-8 helicopter, which made 19 water discharges with a total volume of 38 tons.

↑ 7th of April

[20:45] Fire near the village Rahivka Kotovsky Forestry, which spread over an area of about 5 hectares, is eliminated.

[Est. 14:30] SES of Ukraine: Fire being extinguished in the Kotovsky Forestry near Poliske, villages Volodymyrivka, Zhovtneve and Rudnya Ososhnya on a total area of about 20 hectares. 104 people are involved in firefighting, with 26 units of equipment, including 48 people and 9 units of technology from the SES (admits them an Mi-8 helicopter).

[10:00] Press Secretary of the State Emergencies Ministry in the Kiev region, Victoria Ruban, states, ‘The cause of the fire in the Chernobyl zone is human activity, an investigative and operational group will work at the scene of the incident’.

↑ 6th of April

[Est. 20:00] In the center of the fire, radiation is above the normal — currently 2.3 microsievert compared to the typical rate of 0.14.

On April 05, 2020, NOAA-NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of the human caused wildfire.

A wildfire burning in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, as imaged on April 5, 2020, by the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite.

(Image: © NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS))

[Est. 19:00] Police report the detention of a suspect, a 27-year-old resident of the village Ragivka. He (in his own words) for fun set fire to grass and garbage in three places, after which the wind threw the fire further, and it was no longer possible to extinguish the flame.

[Est. 18:00] SES of Ukraine: In total, more than 90 firefighters and 18 pieces of equipment were involved in extinguishing the fire, of which 40 personnel and 8 pieces of equipment were from the State Emergency Service. There works also aviation. In addition to the scene, 9 vehicles and 40 lifeguards follow."

[Est. 12:00] The Head of the State Ecological Inspectorate, Egor Firsov, declares ‘a total of 100 hectares is on fire’. [Source]

[Est. Morning] Two Antonov An-32 State of Emergency Services (SES) aircrafts flew into the exclusion zone. Total affected area grows to 25 hectares.

↑ 5th of April

[20:00] An area of 20 hectares ignites. 90 firefighters and 18 pieces of equipment, including aviation, are involved in extinguishing the fire.

[13:22] Rescuers receive information that near the Exclusion Zone in the village of Vladimirovka Kotovsky Forestry, a wild forest fire develops.

[Est. 11:00] Fire starts outside of the Zone. 

↑ 4th of April

It’s not uncommon to see fires in the zone — just not in this magnitude. April 4, 2020 will be remembered as the beginning of several days of monstrous fires. More than 500 firefighters worked to slow the spread and shore up containment lines. At last comes the 15th of April, where fire officials in Chernobyl celebrate a landmark moment, saying that for the first time in what has been a series of horrendous days, every fire in the Exclusion Zone is under control.

Here’s the minute by minute recap of the situation.