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Unusually early forest fires

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In several places in Sweden, the fire department is fighting against forest fires. Some areas have been evacuated. Unusual is the early beginning of the forest fire. Due to prolonged drought the fire danger is still high.

It is burning in the south of Sweden – and much earlier than usual. Grass fires are common, says meteorologist Nitzan Cohen on Swedish television. But this time it’s more. „In most cases, the grass fire risk usually increases in the spring, until the new grass covers the remnants of the previous year,“ says Cohen. „Forest fires usually do not appear until the dry summer season and now the two overlap and we can see the result.“

In the past weeks it was unusually dry in Sweden. In entire regions of the country it has not rained for weeks. And at the moment it is also untypically warm. As a result, it is burning in many places in Sweden, but especially in Schonen, the region in the extreme south of the country.

„The situation is serious“

A total of 15 forest fires and 50 large grass fires have been counted so far. And the danger is not over, says Anneli Bergholm Söder of the Swedish Central Authority for Crisis Readiness. „The situation is serious, the fire risk is extremely high in the coming days due to the sunny, warm weather with simultaneous wind,“ said Bergholm. „Hopefully it will be a little better over the weekend.“

The fire department of Sweden is in the first major operation of the year. Also extinguishing helicopters are in the air.

First, no further evacuations

Melissa Melbourn directs the use of the fire department around Hästveda, a small town just over 100 kilometers northeast of Malmö. „I’m reluctant to say that a fire is under control, but right now we have more and more control over the flames,“ she says. „There will be no more evacuations at the moment, but in the areas we evacuated, we’ll be busy for a while, so the residents can not get back to their homes yet.“

At least fifty people had to be brought to safety in Skåne because the flames had dangerously approached their homes. Nobody has ever been hurt. But the property damage is high. And the fear of the local residents in the vicinity of Hästveda is also.

Devastating fires last year

The resident Birger Nilson fears talking to a Swedish television reporter about his property. „The forest is right behind our farm buildings,“ he says. „When it starts to burn there, the fire will easily jump over to our house – we are naturally concerned.“

The flames and their effect remind many of the devastating fires of the past year. Kent Martinson lives in the immediate vicinity of a burned barn in Hastveda. „It was like an explosion, like on TV, there was a blast, Puff, and then the whole barn was ablaze,“ Martinson says.

In the past year, all of Sweden had suffered the worst forest fires in more than 100 years. This year, as the experts are already agreed, the risk of fire is also again extremely high.