A report from Budslau, where a Catholic shrine was rescued from a fire.
"The shrine is on fire!" the surroundings of Budslau have been all agog since the morning. The church of the 18th century is smoking, the old people have been telling each other over the phone. People in the village of Dauhinava, which is 16 kilometers away, see off fire trucks with anxiety, writes nn.by.
In the center of Budslau, the sky is gray with smoke, in the air there is a bitter smell of a fireplace. There are benches and confessionals on the grass - later they will be pulled into the building next to the church. The main icon of the Mother of God has already been taken out. When at half-past eleven the flames burst out and part of the roof collapsed, the only joy was that all the valuables were safe.
Local resident Piotr was one of those who helped to save the decoration.
"There is a whole village of us here, about 200 people," he says. "When they called me and said that the church was on fire, at first I could not believe it. It survived the war! "
Local resident Piotr helped to extinguish the fire and pull things out.
"The elders recalled how they lay down on the ground near the church, begging not to bomb," Danuta wipes away a tear. She was on her way to work at the cafeteria on the other side of the village this morning when she saw the smoke.
"And then everyone started calling us! From Knyahinin, they say, a column of smoke was visible. Our firefighters have arrived, but their stairs are not high - only the village houses are to be extinguished. If the Minskers had arrived right away, or a helicopter had been sent to us, maybe they would have managed to save the roof. And the old books were kept there, everything burned down, apparently," the woman worries.
Among those who helped to carry things out was the Catholic activist Artsiom Tkachuk.
"We with other families and children came to the retreat. The fact that the church was on fire was noticed at 7:50. They ran to the rescue, people were already saving the icons there. Then it was already impossible to enter the church - such a heavy smog stood. "
There are about a dozen fire trucks at the site - from Ilya, Vileika, Maladechna, Minsk. While some rescuers are working at height, others on the ground are preparing oxygen cylinders.
The first information from the inside is comforting - although the roof has collapsed, the brick floors under it are intact. Nothing inside was damaged, only the girandole fell. The huge organ was impossible to take out, so firefighters were on duty and protected it from hot coals.
Since the very morning, guide Yauhen Apanasevich has helped the rescuers. He says that the brick floors are very hot, it is not yet known how they will behave. It is now smoky inside the church, but the paintings have not been touched by the flame.
Nadzeya is sitting on the bench with her son. She came from Dokshytsy with her husband, a firefighter - he was summoned to the fortification.
"We got married in this church, our son was baptized here. It's scary to see that. And it’s scary for my husband," the woman watches the work of the rescuers with anxiety.
The locals are watching the tragedy that unfolded in the center of the village from the park. They cry into their phones, are on duty with icons brought from home. They wonder: what happened?
Someone thinks that the reason is the wiring - when the fire started, the whole of Budslau was left without electricity for several minutes. Others do not believe in this version: a few years ago there was a good repair, and the wiring was checked - it was working properly.
"Maybe it caught fire by someone's negligence? There are also excursions here. But how can we know ... ah-ah, I never thought that I would live to see this," the woman shakes her head.
The firefighters have worked for about six hours. The village cafe is now closed to visitors - you need to feed the rescuers who did not let the flames destroy the shrine.
Vital Piakuryn, deputy chief of the Minsk regional Ministry of Emergency Situations, will tell afterwards: at 7:47 am there was a message about the fire, the first rescuers were on the spot within four minutes. 12 tank trucks and 8 units of other special equipment were involved. Wooden floors in closed cavities caught fire, it was difficult to supply water there. But the fire did not spread beyond the roof.
Minsk priests, Bishop Kazimir Vialikaselets and former Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz also gathered in Budslau. The chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops Aleh Butkevich says that after the fire was extinguished, they could not get inside the church. It is not known in what condition the ancient wooden altar is, whether the walls have been damaged by the flames - an examination must be carried out.
"We will restore it, I think, not only by the forces of the confession, but by the whole of Belarus. Already from abroad they ask us what kind of help is needed."