YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Firefighters joined by army soldiers, police officers and forestry workers battled a major wildfire in southeastern Armenia for the second consecutive day on Monday.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations, it erupted on Sunday afternoon in a forest several dozen kilometers north of Meghri, a small town located near the country’s border with Iran.
A ministry statement said the fire destroyed around 12 hectares of mostly wooded land belonging to the Arevik nature reserve by the time it was contained on Sunday morning. It said the firefighting efforts there continued in the following hours, involving about 70 firefighters as well as 30 soldiers, 45 police officers and dozens of civilian workers. Arevik’s mountainous terrain is complicating the use of heavy equipment, added the statement.
Minister of Emergency Situations Felix Tsolakian discussed the operation with his top subordinates at an emergency meeting held on Sunday evening. They formed a special task force to deal with the emergency.
It was the most serious forest fire reported in Armenia since August 2017. Authorities struggled at the time to extinguish fires that broke out in the Vayots Dzor province and the Khosrov forest reserve southeast of Yerevan in the space of two days.
The Khosrov blaze was particularly serious, with hundreds of hectares of woodland burned as a result. It was put out with the help of a heavy water-dropping aircraft sent by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations at the Armenian government’s request.