Non-compliance with safety regulations may have caused big peat bog fire in Latvia

On Tuesday, July 2, firefighters managed to put down the fire in the Kārsava region, where about 32 hectares of forest and peat were ablaze. Firefighters do not ignore the possibility that the fire may have been caused by the local peat extraction company's failure to comply with fire regulations, reported LSM's Latvian service on July 3.

The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) received the summons to rush to the Malnava parish in the Kārsava region at 16:00 on July 1. The site of the fire was the Beržovka peat bog, where it turned out that the peat stacked on wooden pallets had caught fire. 

On Monday evening, about 14 hectares of peat and 6 hectares of forest were on fire. An overall of 32 hectares – 10 hectares of forest and 22 hectares of peat – were burned by the evening of July 2, when the firefighters finally managed to suppress the blaze.

Vera's house is one of the closest to the site of the fire. But there was little to suggest that 30 hectares of peat and wood were burning nearby. She conjectured that it was “the wind that saved us”. 

Fire brigades from different parts of Latgale – Balvi, Rēzekne, Viļaka, Zilupe – were summoned to put down the fires in the Kārsava region. The firefighters worked alongside the State Forest Service experts, soldiers of the National Armed Forces, and border guards with technical equipment. On Monday, a helicopter helped to douse the fire from above, and on Tuesday – a drone.

Kristaps Eklons, Deputy Chief of VUGD admitted that drone services are expensive, so the firefighters were pleased that “Latvian Railways” provided a drone to speed up the process. Firefighters are looking forward to the provision of new drones at the end of this year.

But it was the weather that assisted the firefighters the most. During the day, there was a rainfall in the vicinity of the Beržovka village. In contrast, however, there was a strong wind, which served to the firefighters' detriment.

The police were also present at the site of the fire. Their task was to determine the cause of the fire. 

Eklons said that the preliminary firefighters ascribed the cause of the fire to some errors made by the peat producers: “there are signs that security regulations have been violated”.

The company “RT Būve” is working at the site of the fire. LTV could not reach their representatives for comment on Tuesday. 

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