IRAQ - WELL77
IRAQ - WELL77 by Edouard Elias
For almost a year now, oil fields around Mosul have been on fire. As Iraqi forces launched an assault on Islamic State-held cities, retreating militants have left behind ruins and blazes. They destroyed buildings and set fire to entire oil fields.
But Iraqis are fighting back. A small group of these men coming from all over the country risks their lives every day to pull them out. These firefighters in front of these bursts of flames look like David against Goliath.
Even if they already did it during previous wars (These fires are extremely symbolic : oil is the countryʼs principal resource but also the cause of its destruction) this fire engineers will not give up and will continue to fight to bring back hope to their country.
Following a squad of them in January as they fought fires around the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, covers a less temporal aspect of that conflict. This shows a different angle that focuses on Iraqis themselves.
Men of oil wale 77 fight with their know-how, their bravery, their tenacity, more than with their somewhat limited technical means. To control such a blaze requires patience, obstinacy, and a certain amount of madness as well as a strong technical command. It is crucial also for the team to be solid; the firemen must know each other so well that a simple sign of hand speaks as efficiently as a long explanation. They must know about their own limits and the limits of their companions; The stormy fire blast drowns out all voices, and its motion is unpredictable. You loose attention, you feel exhausted and the fire takes you and burns you critically.