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Photos: Ukrainian firefighters on risky mission to save lives


Thick gray smoke billows from the roof as firefighters arrive at a brick house, one of many homes hit by Russian shelling in a residential area in Kostiantynivka.

The city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province has been heavily bombed in recent days during a Russian raid to capture nearby Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces held out during a heavy battle that began last summer.

Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are attacking Kostiantynivka with cluster bombs and missiles.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk province, said one person was killed and at least three civilians injured after several rounds of Russian shelling on Saturday.

An attack on the town the day before left eight people injured and more than a dozen homes destroyed or damaged. The dams have overwhelmed local firefighters, who are taking great risks putting out fires in buildings and cars, even as shelling continues.

The air is heavy with smoke and the acrid smell of explosives as the firefighters unfold a hose. They smash the windows of the brick house and spray water into it.

There are no people inside, but a dog is trapped in a cage in the backyard. A firefighter opens the gate and the dog runs out among the smoke and debris.

The chief of unit calls on his team to stop what they are doing.

“Attention everyone. Air raid!” he yells.

The firefighters take cover behind the house, sitting still as explosions go off in the distance.

It is unclear whether the blasts are a new wave of attacks or secondary explosions caused by fires in the area. Anyway, they’re getting closer. The team leader orders everyone back to the truck.

As they run down the dirt road, another loud explosion shakes the neighborhood, sending a cloud of smoke into the sky not far from the house they just left.


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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