UPDATED: A brush fire in the dry, rocky hills of Øygården just west of Bergen flared up again Friday morning, not long after weary firefighters thought they had it under control. The fire spread late Thursday to a new residential area with several hundred homes, and residents were being evacuated.
The fire around Kårtveit in Øygården, made up of many islands, had overtaken two homes and “we’re not even close to gaining control,” local fire chief Bjørn Olav Paulsen told state broadcaster NRK around 7:30pm. “We’ve been fighting this for more than seven hours,” he added after the fire spread from Fjæreide, east towards Kårtveit and then north towards Ågotnes on the island of Sotra.
His colleague Tor André Brakstad of the Vest Police District had to repeat Paulsen’s comment on Friday: “This fire is not in any way under control,” he told NRK as flames spread to the hills known as Spjeldfjellet. Winds were rising again and Brakstad called it all “a worrisome development.”
Helicopters were flying continually over the area and dumping water on the burning grass and underbrush called lyng, but were hampered by “wind coming from all directions” also on Thursday evening. The enormous amounts of smoke made it difficult for the helicopter pilots to see the actual flames that were their targets for water dumps.
The cause of the fire remained unclear. NRK reported Friday morning that police have launched an investigation and will be questioning residents in the area where the fire first broke out.