Norway’s worst fire disaster in 50 years is beginning to take its toll on fire crews, who dealt with yet another flare up in the hills above Lærdal overnight on Tuesday. Meanwhile police have started interviewing witnesses, including the owner of the home where the devastating blaze broke out.
The new fire was reported shortly after midnight. It had broken out behind a compost heap about 200 metres up the side of the valley, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Firefighters extinguished the fire, which was burning through heather and moss.
It was another sleepless night for crews, after strong winds flared up spot fires on Monday night. They have worked for four days straight since the fire broke out on Saturday night, destroying dozens of historic wooden buildings and damaging many more in the mountain village. NRK’s reporter on the scene said emergency crews were visibly fatigued.
Kripos police investigators interviewed the homeowner where the fire started on Tuesday, but would not reveal any details. They also interviewed several witnesses. Police said the investigation will be difficult, and warned it could take weeks before the cause of the blaze is known.
Meanwhile, NRK reported more than 4,000 part-time fire fighters in Norway lack basic fire training. The Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap) repeatedly changed the deadline for all part-time crews to have completed the basic fire protection course from 2012 to 2013, and now to 2015.
Nils Erik Haagenrud from the Norwegian Fire Association (Norsk Brannbefals Landsforbund) said not enough money is allocated for part-time firefighters’ training, but said they do the same work as career firefighters so the education is critical. Roar Johansen from Norway’s fire training school (Norges Brannskole) said each municipality is given funds for fire training, but because the money is not earmarked it is often spent elsewhere. The Justice Department would not comment while it investigated the claims.