THE FIRST DECADE. 1975-1985.



Tynda (Biased Notes)





Of course, there are our own small catastrophes.They seem small on the "planetary" scale.For the city's residents they are the real catastrophes.One of the most biggest and dangerous occurred in January of 1998.

On January 8th 1998, at 19:47 the phones lines and lights went out.This periodically happens so residents were not particularly alarmed.I was walking to work and it was interesting to see how all of the lights went out simultaneously.Approximately one hour later the fire department received a message about a fire in the underground communications collector.They did not get detailed information but when they arrived to the scene, they realized how serous the situation was.The collector, which was engulfed in flames, held the main heating pipes, communications cables as well as the principal high voltage cables.

Due to lack of any communication, nobody knew if the cables were shut off.Without knowing that, firefighters could not use water.The collector was filled with toxic gases from burning cables and there was not enough oxygen in the breathing apparatuses.The temperature was as high as 900 degrees Celsius at times (the metal coating on the cables was melted in few spots).

It was difficult to run the fire engines due to extreme cold.By morning the situation became critical - the fire had gotten very close to the main emergency line (the only one remaining that was still supplying the city).The state of emergency was declared.Firefighters did their best and later in the day the fire was extinguished.But the situation still remained critical.

Imagine this:

In winter the temperature easily falls below -40.Most of the residents live in the housing with central hot water heating.There is no alternative, no fireplaces.The temperature slowly drops.It was 12 degrees Celsius in my apartment in the morning.The phone does not work.Nobody knows what's going on and blame everybody they can think of.Tynda is a small city and news usually spread very quickly.It even rumored that the fire was a terrorist operation of the Chechen guerillas.

Thanks to our city administration the situation was remedied quickly.According to the estimates, the losses amounted to 8 billion non-denominated rubles.

One of my colleagues said: "Why would one need to drop a bomb on Tynda? It would be sufficient to make the Central Heating Plant personnel drunk.That's it."


Next year, central indoor market burnt down.

On April 18th 1999, around 11:40 the central indoor market caught fire.The market was inside the 3-story building that used to host a department store.The fire was spectacular!I live nearby and had a chance to witness it.Around 11:35 my son came home from school.The market was still there.My wife and I left our home around 11:50.At that time the market was fully engulfed.The fire started on the third floor.The fire inspectors had warned the administration numerous times about the fire safety code violations.On September 23rd 1998, the indoor market was closed down for systematic fire safety violations.And on April 18th 1999, it caught fire.

According to the people that were inside when the fire just begun, the fire was traveling down from the 3rd floor in a wave-like manner, with a noise, just like in the movies.Luckily, it was a weekday and not too many customers were in the building.However, I heard all kinds of rumors.Someone allegedly saw a burning beam falling down on a woman and then heard the screams of burning alive people.In reality, besides one slightly burnt firefighter there were no victims.But the spectacle was grand!The metal siding sheets, detached by the fire from the walls, were gliding down.The heat was immense.Nobody could stand close.The noise from the fire was deafening.One had to scream so that the other could hear when exchanging impressions.People whose shops were inside were running around crying or cussing.They were in whatever they were wearing at the time the fire started: some in slippers and a fur coat, some in shorts with a fur hat on the head, some holding on to their cash registers.

A neighboring former dormitory "Pioneer" (it's on the right in the picture), that hosts a small hotel and some retail shops, shared the water supply pipes of the indoor market.At the time of the fire, the overheated pipes burst.The scene was somewhat like "Titanic's" -- crying people are running around trying to save whatever they can, the water is flowing Awesome!


Another fire

Whoever remembers old Tynda, especially during the anti-drinking campaign, might recollect café "Lan."Back in the day, the café was the only place where one could "quench the thirst."They even used to serve a special combo of glass of vodka or wine, salad and some hot meal and something like a fruit punch.If you wanted some more vodka, you had to order another "combo."The place used to gather the appropriate crowd.A friend of mine told me the following story:


I was on my way to work with a huge hangover.I was working as a machinist and also going to a night school.All day long I felt like crap: could not smoke nor eat.By evening, I somewhat came back to senses.On my way home, there is this café "Lan."I thought I should stop by and get something to eat as well as something to drink.I ordered the combo, sat at a table and paused for a moment: should I eat or drink first.I decided to have a drink first so that the food is more appetizing.As I was finishing the shot I noticed with my peripheral vision a chair flying across the dining area.All of a sudden a big fight broke out!I grabbed my salad plate, climbed under the table and thought to myself: "Isn't great that I decided to have a shot first."


Someone tried to open a decent café in that building later (it even rumored that it will have a striptease as part of the entertainment).But the building just burnt down during one of the nights.Foundation is the only thing left over.


There also was a financial pyramid scheme, no worse than MMMs

"Bamcredit" bank used to accept deposits offering high rates of return.People even wanted to see the bank's owner Mr. Yusfin run for the city government.The bank was expanding by opening new branches in other cities.With time, the bank stopped paying interest and then froze all the deposits.They were apologizing at first, promising that this difficult time would pass.Later the bank closed its doors.Depositors are trying to sue so that they can at least get their original deposits back.As of today 1,620 people have been cheated out of their money.