Warning for forest fires
22 Jul 2018

Sweden is burning - the EU rushes to aid in multiple unstoppable forest fires during hottest summer in 260 years


The extreme heat in Scandinavia continues. Over 80 fires are raging, and all over Sweden, fire fighters are struggling against bad odds. According to MSB, the Swedish the Authority for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning, four of the fires are impossible to extinguish without a change in weather.

People are being evacuated from their homes in many areas and there is no hope is sight for a change in weather.

"It would require it to rain for two weeks, and there is no rain in the forecast," says Marcus Årskog, managing director of MSB's operational department.

Four of the large fires in Sweden are un-extinguishable, says Marcus Årskog, Operations Officer of the Civil Protection and Preparedness Authority (MSB)

"It means that you can not extinguish them, only limit and control the fire so that it does not spread to any towns or villages. It needs to rain steadily for two weeks for these fires to get under control", he adds.

According to the Swedish Emergency Call Center 112 (911) SOS Alarm, there were 83 active terrain fires in Sweden on Friday night. The most serious are in Jämtland, Gävleborg, Dalarna and outside Örnsköldsvik.

The area that has already burned is more than 25 000 hectars, which is more than the great fire in Västmanland 2014, when more than 13 000 hectars of land was destroyed.

The value of the lumber destroyed to date is estimated to over 100 million Euros, and those numbers are rising as the fires progress.


Could burn for months

The area that is burning is now larger than the during the great fire in Västmanland 2014. The difference now, is that the fires are burning all over the country and authorities are preparing themselves for a catastrophic fire season that could continue until Fall or even Winter arrives.


Map over forest firesHistorical heat wave with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) in Stockholm

The heat wave in Scandinavia started already in May, and after only light rains that have usually lasted only less than a day, it has been unusually hot and dry during most of June. July has so far been the historically hottest since SMHI, the Swedish Meterological Institute, started measuring in the 1700:eds, 260 years ago.


On Monday, 16 July, the Civil Protection and Emergency Agency, MSB.se, sent a request for firefighting at the ERCC, the EU's jointly funded civil protection mechanism. Two Italian flights began water bomb in the woods on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, July 18, MSB again requested firefighting aid from the EU.

France sent two water bombers and a coordination plan that participates in the fire fighting around Kårböle, in the municipality of Ljusdal.

On Thursday, MSB announced that Lithuania sent a helicopter and Germany assisted, with the EU, with five helicopters.

The Norwegian civil protection agency DSB has sent ten helicopters like water bombs in Jämtland and Gävleborg. Volunteer Norwegian part-time fighters in Røros, Stjørdal and Os near the Swedish border have also been sent to Härjedalen.

The Danish civil protection agency DEMA also sent a convoy of volunteers and equipment from Danish municipalities up to Gävleborg County on Thursday morning.

Ground  personnel from Denmark is supporting the extinguishing work in Ljusdal and Kårböle. More staff are coming in from Denmark.

On Saturday morning, staff from Poland have entered the country and are heading north. 140 people and 40 vehicles will assist in extinguishing work.

Water bomber aircraft, helicopters, vehicles and ground forces is now being sent to Sweden from various countries in the EU, as European countries rush to help Sweden to fight the devastating forest fires.

"That's what our citizens are expecting in the European Union" writes EU aid commissioner Christos Stylianides in a press release.

An extremely dry weather over a long period has created major problems with several forest fires in Sweden. The worst affected are Gävleborg, Dalarna and Jämtland County.

Help from France and Poland
Last Saturday, Sweden welcomed aid from France with 60 firefighters. Norwegian and Danish firefighters contribute as well - which will also be supported by helicopters from Lithuania and Germany.

On Saturday, more than 140 Polish firemen arrived with 44 extinguishing vehicles to Sweden to help.

"The EU stands with the Swedish government and the Swedish people during their emergency. I thank all countries for their quick offers of help through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, "said EU Development Commissioner Christos Stylianides in the press release.

Cover Photo: Pixabay.com / Montage by Wikipedia