UPDATED: Several residents from Sel in Gudbrandsdalen were forced to evacuate their homes as a forest fire burned out of control on Friday afternoon. It was later brought under control and extinguished while a second large fire burned at Svanstul in Skien. Firefighters struggled with access in the rugged terrain, and warnings went up again for high fire danger all over Norway.
Gudbrandsdalen police said the fire had burned out a large area in dry, windy conditions. Sel municipality fire chief Tom Are Nilstad told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) the fire front stretched from the Gudbrandsdalslågen river up the mountain side. “We have evacuated some residents, and we’re working to cut down trees to hinder the spread to houses,” he said. The residents were later allowed to return.
Several fire units were joined by civil defense workers, volunteers and a fire helicopter from Torp. The Dovrebanen rail line was closed between Otta and Dombås because of the blaze, causing delays for commuters.
Reporter Guro Vollen from local newspaper Vigga told NRK it appeared the fire had started near the railway tracks. “It looks quite dramatic,” she said. “It’s a wide area it’s burning in, and there is a lot of wind. The fire department has no way of getting into the area.”
The fire at Svanstul was reported just after 11 o’clock on Friday morning, and spread quickly over the next four across 30 to 40 acres. The area is a popular spot for winter holiday cabins, but police said only forest had burnt and no cabins or buildings were threatened at that stage. A water-bombing helicopter was expected from Sauda around four o’clock in the afternoon, to help crews in the hard to access area.