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Wildfire Warriors

Russian Forest Spetsnaz on the frontline

When we think of putting out a fire, we would typically picture a fire hose or extinguisher. But it is more about muscles, a lot of digging and explosives when it comes to wildfires. This is where the Russian Aerial Forest Protection Service comes in. The forest firefighters parachute into the most inaccessible areas of the taiga. They dig trenches, or firebreaks, to stop fires from spreading or use explosives instead of spades if the site is too big. Backfire is another way of fighting wildfires. Very often, the smoke jumpers brush with death when they get caught inside a fire circle and have to wait it out in a swamp or a cold river, trying not to get burnt or inhale the smoke. In terms of wildfires, the year 2021 may break Russia’s abysmal record of the century. The firefighters spend up to six months in the taiga, being redeployed from one fire source to another, without having a chance to go home and see their families. So how do they survive in such conditions?