Polish firefighters help to contain wildfires in Sweden

TVN24 News in English

Polish State Fire Service | Polish State Fire ServicePoland has dispatched the largest contingency of firefighters to battle wilfires in Sweden

Polish firefighters are in, Sveg, central Sweden, where they are helping to fight forest fires. They came by ferry from Świnoujście to Malmö. Along the way to Sveg, they were greeted by Swedish firefighters.

"We are preparing a defense line to hold against the front of the fire about 50 kilometres from our base," said Michał Langner from Polish State Fire Service.

Polish firemen will be operating at three locations close to Sveg base in central Sweden. The most dangerous point is 50 kilometres east. There the firefighters will attempt to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Firefighters have struggled to douse wildfires that have swept across Sweden after a protracted period of exceptional heat and drought.

Authorities said there were 35 registered wildfires burning on Thursday, affecting more than 20,000 hectares across the heavily forested Nordic country.

In a normal year, Sweden would expect wildfires to affect about 2,000 hectares in total, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) said on its website.

Several villages in the worst hit municipality of Ljusdal in southern-central Sweden were evacuated overnight. On Thursday Prime Minister Stefan Lofven visited the area, where fires were burning across some 8,500 hectares.

Soldiers, coastguards and civilian groups were helping firefighters to contain the fires.

Forests worth an estimated 600 million Swedish crowns ($67 million) have so far gone up in flames, news agency TT said, citing the Swedish Forest Agency.

Many parts of Sweden have seen their driest weather in the May to mid-July period since records began in the 19th century, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said, and there are few signs of the drought coming to an end.

There have been no reports of deaths or injuries in this year's wildfires. In 2014, one person was killed when the largest wildfire seen in Sweden in 40 years ravaged an area totalling 14,000 hectares in the central Vastmanland region.

Unusually hot weather has gripped Sweden since May, when nearly all regions hit record temperatures for that particular month, in some places by as much as 2 degrees above the average, SMHI said.

In July too, several longstanding records have been broken. The Kvikkjokk-Arrenjarka weather station in Laponia, north of the Arctic Circle, recorded 32.5 degrees, beating a 1945 record of 32 degrees. That was the highest since records began in 1888.

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 International, Reuters, PAP