Source: I visited Chernobyl and Pripyat in April.
No, I think it was overall a waste of human life. The situation could have been handled far better by putting out the fires immediately -- those were spewing toxic, radioactive smoke into the air. After that, however, instead of attempting a coverup, the first priority should have been evacuation. Once people were out of harm's way, there would be time for planning a safe, careful cleanup effort.
Because of the poor design, which lacked of secondary containment, some deaths in the initial firefighting might have been unavoidable, but the death toll was unnecessarily high, all for the sake of saving face and hoping that things could be covered up.
Our guide pointed out a piece that some idiot had brought up from the highly irradiated basement.
The cleanup operation wasn't much better - men cleaning nearby reactor roofs in 45 second shifts and heavy lead aprons because the radiation was too bad for a fleet of robots to function.