The Slatest

Russian TV Reporter Covering Raging Wildfire Flicks Cigarette Butt on Ground, Starts Fire

Russians try to stop a fire from spreading near the village Golovanovo in August 2010.  

Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a proven scientific link between fires and wildfires. But apparently Russian journalist Mikhail Akinchenko wasn’t briefed on the physics of fire before heading off to report on the deadly wildfires raging in Siberia that have claimed 34 lives and injured 600. Akinchenko, a reporter for Russian state television’s Channel One, was at the scene of the fires that have raged for more than a week, covering thousands of square miles, when he flicked a cigarette on to the ground, starting a grass fire near a small town.

“A local resident contacted police after seeing Channel One reporter Mikhail Akinchenko drop the butt, but denied the reporter had purposefully started the fire,” Agence France-Presse reports. The fire was quickly contained and extinguished. But why exactly would anyone think he started it on purpose? “Police questioned the reporter, who allegedly told them he wanted to ‘get a background shot,’ regional news agency Khakasia reported,” according to AFP. “Channel One has regularly faced accusations of airing faked or misleading footage, particularly in covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

A spokesperson for the channel, however, “maintains Akinchenko did it unintentionally—simply forgetting to stub out his cigarette,” according to RT. The Channel One response to the whole thing, or at least the translation of it, is also worth reading (via RT):

“Idiots! Just idiots! Of course, he’ll be punished! One must have a head screwed on the right way, one must understand, what he or she is doing. He is a good correspondent as well as a good person. But one must always use his noggin! Of course, he’ll be punished, but not fired,” Kirill Kleimenov, Channel One deputy director general and a head of news program department, told the Russian News Service.

Get your noggin in the game Akinchenko!