EU rushes to aid Sweden against wildfires

Published:  23 July, 2018

Sweden has triggered the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to combat 80 wildfires, that are raging across the country.

Firefighters are struggling against bad odds. According to MSB, the Swedish the Authority for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning, four of the fires are impossible to extinguish without a change in weather.

People are being evacuated from their homes in many areas and there is no hope in sight for a change in weather.

‘It would require it to rain for two weeks, and there is no rain in the forecast. Four of the large fires in Sweden are un-extinguishable,’ said Marcus Årskog, operations officer of the Civil Protection and Preparedness Authority (MSB)

‘It means that you can not extinguish them, only limit and control the fire so that it does not spread to any towns or village. It must rain steadily for two weeks for these fires to get under control,’ he added.

According to the Swedish Emergency Call Center 112 (911) SOS Alarm, there were 83 active terrain fires in Sweden on Friday night. The most serious are in Jämtland, Gävleborg, Dalarna and outside Örnsköldsvik.

The area that has already burned is more than 20 000 hectares, which is more than the great fire in Västmanland 2014, when more than 13 000 hectares of land was destroyed.

The value of the forest destroyed to date is estimated to over 60 million Euros, and those numbers are rising as the fires progress.

 Could burn for months

The area that is burning is now larger than the great fire in Västmanland in 2014. The difference now, is that the fires are burning all over the country and authorities are preparing themselves for a catastrophic fire season that could continue until autumn or even winter arrives.

Historical heat wave with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) in Stockholm

The heat wave in Scandinavia started already in May, and after only light rains that have usually lasted only less than a day, it has been unusually hot and dry during most of June. July has so far been the historically hottest since SMHI, the Swedish Meterological Institute, started measuring in the 1700:eds, 260 years ago.

The Civil Protection and Emergency Agency, has sent a request for firefighting trough the ERCC, the EU's jointly funded civil protection mechanism. Two Italian flights began water bombing in the woods last week.

France sent two water bombers and a coordination plan that participates in the firefighting around Kårböle, in the municipality of Ljusdal.

MSB also announced that Lithuania sent a helicopter and Germany assisted with five helicopters.

The Norwegian civil protection agency DSB has sent ten helicopters for water bombing in Jämtland and Gävleborg. Volunteer Norwegian part-time fighters in Røros, Stjørdal and Os near the Swedish border have also been sent to Härjedalen.

The Danish civil protection agency DEMA also sent a convoy of volunteers and equipment from Danish municipalities up to Gävleborg County on Thursday morning.

Ground personnel from Denmark is supporting the extinguishing work in Ljusdal and Kårböle, and more firefighters are being brought in.

Firefighters from Poland have entered the country and are heading north. 140 people and 40 vehicles will assist in extinguishing work.

‘The EU stands with the Swedish government and the Swedish people during their emergency. I thank all countries for their quick offers of help through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism,’ said EU Development Commissioner Christos Stylianides.

  • Operation Florian

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