Dry weather sparks brush fire warnings

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Warnings are up all over Southern Norway of unusually high forest and brush fire danger. Several fires have already raged out of control, and there’s a total ban on campfires or other outdoor burning from now until September 15.

Warnings were up all over Southern Norway this week against any campfires or open burning because of high brush- and forest fire danger. “All use of fires is forbidden,” reads this warning sign. PHOTO: Rogaland Brann og Redning IKS

One unfortunate farmer in Rogaland on Norway’s West Coast inadvertently set off a brush fire while burning off some overgrowth on his property. “I haven’t slept well since,” said farmer Nils Ove Nordland. He only intended to burn off some lyng (underbrush) but the wind shifted. “We didn’t have a chance,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) earlier this week.

He watched from below, at Noredalen in Sandnes, as helicopters tried to douse the fire with water fetched from nearby lakes. “I’m responsible,” he candidly told NRK. Local authorities confirmed that he had permission to burn off some old underbrush so new grass could grow. “Unfortunate circumstances led to the fire going out of control,” Frode Johansen of the local fire brigade told NRK.

It’s tinder dry all over Southern Norway, even in areas where there’s still some snow on the ground. Warnings were set at the next-highest level this week in Oslo and in the counties of Akershus, Oppland, Hedmark, Buskerud and Aust-Agder. Rogaland, Hordaland and Møre og Romsdal are also in danger. Only Northern Norway is exempt, since there’s still lots of snow there.

Norway’s directorate for security and preparedness (DSB) has already registered 112  brush fires and 27 forest fires so far this year. Helicopters were on standby at a base at the Torp Airport in Sandefjord through the Easter holiday week. Crews on the ground have also been busy fighting fires at Mysen in Østfold south of Oslo, at Bø in Telemark ant at both Tysvær and Sandnes in Rogaland.

The lack of rain has also led to dusty conditions in many areas, and business was brisk as local car washes this week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund