Hot, dry weather sparks campfire ban

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All it took was two weeks with no rain for the forests around Oslo to get so dry that local fire authorities decided to ban any sort of campfire in the Norwegian capital’s surrounding areas known as marka. Forest fire danger is also high all over southern Norway.

On Wednesday it became illegal to build a campfire in the forest areas of Asker og Bærum, Oslo and Nedre Romerike. Fires are even banned in designated campfire sites, nor is it allowed to use the popular disposable barbecues known as an “engangs grill.”

Urging extreme caution
It will still be allowed to use them in city parks, but Oslo Fire Chief Asle Hembre asked residents to be extremely careful. “It’s dry everywhere,” Hembre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Smokers were also urged to be especially cautious if they feel a need to light up a cigarette.

Hembre said the degrees of dryness vary around Oslo. “The forest fire danger is lower at Tryvann, for example, than in Nittedal,” Hembre told NRK. “But to keep it simpler, we’re imposing a ban for all of Oslo and Akershus counties.”

The Oslo fire brigade wound up fighting six separate fires within the city on Tuesday and a hytte fire broke out at Stensrudtjern in the forest known as Østmarka on the city’s southeast side on Wednesday. The fire spread quickly to trees in the area and six firetrucks were sent to contain the blaze. One firefighter commented that “we were lucky this time, because there was no wind. Otherwise it could have quickly gone out of control.”

From floods to near-drought
Farther east in the Glommen forest around the city of Elverum, local officials also imposed a ban on forestry operations. They feared that even a spark from timber-cutting machinery could set off a fire.

It’s all a sudden change from the weeks of rain and chilly temperatures earlier this summer, when authorities dealt with flood, not fire, danger. Oslo city authorities also warned this week that they may impose water rationing if city residents don’t voluntarily reduce the watering of their gardens.

Weather forecasters instead have reported that this month is shaping up as one of the warmest Julys in years, with warm and mostly dry weather predicted at least through the end of the week.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund