UPDATED: Fire broke out overnight in the dry coastal hills near villages in Flatanger, Nord-Trøndelag, threatening buildings and homes. About 20 people were evacuated during the night, and houses, commercial buildings and marinas were in danger as the blaze tore through the Hasvåg peninsula.
“The fire department has control of the fire out to Hårnes, but now that the fire has spread to Hasvåg things are worse,” Flatanger Mayor Olav Jørgen Bjørkås told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), fearing for the homes, wharves, industry and farms in the area.
“It’s very serious that the fire has spread,” Bjørkås added. “The fire department doesn’t have control there. In the worst case it can burn down the peninsula.”
Police said some buildings had gone up in flames on Tuesday morning, but at that stage they did not know how many.
“People are safe, but we’re not sure how it’s going with buildings in Småværet, Hasvåg and Harståd,” said Rune Reinsborg from Nord-Trøndelag police. He said strong southeast winds were fanning the flames through bone dry brush, making conditions difficult for about 50 firefighters and Norwegian Civil Defense (Sivilforsvaret) crews to contain the blaze. It had burned out 15 square kilometres by Tuesday morning.
“Now we’re waiting for a fire helicopter from Værnes,” he told NRK just before sunrise. “The helicopter can’t go in before it lightens, but we’re hoping it can be ready in the area around eight o’clock.”
Ole Marius Haugen from the Nord-Trøndelag fire operations centre said conditions were too dangerous to send in crews. “There’s strong wind in the area, and it’s difficult to reach in rough terrain,” he said. “There’s also only one road in to the buildings in Hasvåg and Småværet. For crews’ safety we dare not head into the fire, so we’re dependent on help from a fire helicopter to get control over the fire.”
Police were yet to work out the cause of the Flatanger blaze, but warned the fire danger remained high across Norway, not least since there’s been an unseasonal lack of precipitation in the area this winter. Eight grass and forest fires flared over the weekend, and about 10 people were evacuated when a blaze near Byneset in Trondheim threatened homes on Friday. Fire crews say strong winds and “freeze-dried” grass is to blame for the unusually hire January fire risk.
About 40 buildings were destroyed causing damage in the millions when fire raged through the historic town of Lærdal earlier this month. Three heritage listed wooden buildings and 17 homes were among those destroyed in Norway’s worst fire disaster since World War II.