Emergency services are struggling to contain a forest fire that has been devastating large areas of Borjomi municipality for the past four days. No casualties have been reported.
The blaze began near the village of Kvabiskhevi, around 12 kilometres southwest of the town of Borjomi, and has been spreading to difficult-to-reach areas of forest since Friday.
Guram Maisuradze, a representative of the mayor of the nearby village of Dviri, told TV Borjomi that ‘the fire was probably started by a lightning bolt’.
According to a statement by the emergency services, work to contain the fire has been hampered by both the rugged terrain and strong winds.
Local and national emergency services have been deployed to tackle the blaze, with 300 firefighters, 300 employees of the Special Tasks Department, four border police helicopters, and monitoring drones working to contain its spread, and an emergency headquarters established near the village of Dgvari.
On Monday, military personnel joined fire-fighting units from the Defence Forces already active in Borjomi municipality.
While emergency services said they were close to containing the fire on Sunday, high temperatures and winds caused it to resume spreading on Monday. However, on Monday morning, the Emergency Situations Management Service stated that the danger of the fire spreading to populated areas ‘had been removed’.
At present, the size of the area that has been damaged by the fire has not been made public. However, NASA satellite data suggests that up to 400 hectares (4 square kilometres) of land may have been affected.
Borjomi has been the site of several large forest fires in recent years.
In August 2017, a fire devastated an area of more than 943 hectares (9.4 square kilometres) in Borjomi over the course of four days. In addition to national emergency services, neighbouring countries mobilised equipment and firefighters to support the effort to extinguish the fire.