Forest fire danger tops the charts

UPDATED: Firefighters in southern Norway continued to battle a blaze that was threatening homes near Flekkefjord on Monday. They finally brought it under control Monday afternoon, but weather forecasters warned that the threat of more fires was extremely high because of ongoing warm weather and little precipitation.

“The forests in southern Norway are tinder dry and the danger of more fires is high,” state meteorologist Inger-Lise Aasen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday. “Both the brush and grass are so dry now, and when there’s a bit of wind, it’s difficult to extinguish flames.”

The index for measuring the danger of forest fires is as high as it can be right now, in all of the country’s southern counties. Only Nord-Trøndelag was spared the “dark red” posting at the top of the danger scale.

Another brush fire also broke out Monday evening at Sponvika on the southeast coast, between Fredrikstad and Moss. Several holiday cabins were under threat, reported NRK, and firefighters in the area called for reinforcements as the blaze burned out of control.

Aasen and her fellow meteorologists were predicting a little rain later this week, but not enough to reduce the fire danger levels. “April was warm and dry, we set several temperature records,” Aasen noted. “And this early in the season, there’s still a lot of old, dry leaves in the forests. They burn more easily than the fresh, newly green trees. That’s why we need to hope for more rain.”

The fire that broke out just north of Flekkefjord during the weekend was still burning out of control on Monday morning. The only good news firefighters received was that the winds were due to ease later in the day and they did, allowing them to finally feel they had control by early evening.

Four helicopters were called in to battle the fire, which was burning both on the ground and in the trees. After a brief lull during the night, the flames flared up again and spread early in the morning. The helicopters were dropping water over a wide area.

Police and local officials opened up Gyland School as a gathering spot for local residents who were urged to leave their homes. Areas around homes were watered down in an effort to protect them.

For photos and video from NRK, click here. (In Norwegian, external link.)

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our Reader Response if you’d like to comment on this story.