Armenia sent several dozen firefighters to neighboring Georgia on Tuesday to help authorities there battle a wildfire that erupted in a Georgian nature reserve at the weekend.
Georgian officials reported that the fire in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has expanded to an area of more than twelve hectares. They said that high winds and heavy smoke are impeding efforts by Georgian firefighters to contain the blaze. The steep, rugged landscape also makes it very difficult to use firefighting machinery, they said.
The scale of the disaster led the Georgian government to ask neighboring states for assistance. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili told reporters on Tuesday that Azerbaijan and Turkey have sent in firefighting helicopters and that firefighters from Armenia are “on their way” to the mountainous area in south-central Georgia.
The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations confirmed the information, saying that it has dispatched eight fire engines along with their crews to the Borjomi reserve. The 57-strong team also includes medics and other emergency workers, the ministry said in a statement.
According to the Armenpress news agency, the head of the ministry’s Rescue Service, Mushegh Ghazarian, will personally coordinate the team’s participation in the firefighting efforts.
The authorities in Yerevan provided the assistance just days after extinguishing two massive wildfires that burned hundreds of hectares of woodland in Armenia after weeks of unusually high temperatures. They had to ask Russia to send a heavy firefighting aircraft for containing one of those fires that erupted in the Khosrov Forest State Reserve southeast of Yerevan on August 12.
Large quantities of water dropped by the Ilyushin-72 plane proved critical in the firefighting operation conducted there.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations said earlier on Tuesday that its firefighters are continuing to carry out “post-extinguishment works” to prevent renewed fire outbreaks at Khosrov.