The enormous forest fires here in Sweden have been surrounded, at great effort, and the emergency services are now able to keep them from spreading. But as no more help can be expected via the EU, Sweden’s government has decided to turn to NATO.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said on Thursday that the government had made a decision to allow the agency coordinating fire efforts to call for help via NATO’s Partnership for Peace network. He also said that now is the time to show solidarity and provide extra aid to the local municipalities that have been hit by the fires.
The current stand-off with the historically large fires has been won with the help of firefighters co-ordinated by the EU. But there will be no more EU aid on the way, because of the efforts to battle the blazes in Greece, which have killed at least 74 people. The two water-bombing planes from Portugal that arrived Wednesday night will be the last.
So far a firefighting plane from NATO member Turkey has been offered, and accepted, says the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).
Firefighters gaining control
Emma Nordwall at MSB said at Thursday’s daily press briefing that “We have good control over the larger fires” and that the lines around the fires are holding. Fire-breaks have been created by removing trees and even by burning strips of forest.
The two large fires are those in central Sweden, at Trängslet in Älvdalen (Dalarna County) and around the evacuated village of Kårböle in Ljusdal (Gävleborg County).
MSB is building up a “tactical reserve” in the southern city of Växjö, as new fires could break out in that region, with temperatures soaring and Sweden’s countryside already parched from low rainfall since May.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: This year’s exceptional heat is becoming the new normal, scientists warn, CBC News
Finland: Rain helps tame forest fires in northern Finland, Yle News
Norway: European Arctic swelters under tropical temperatures, breaks heat records, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Forest fires are raging across the Barents region, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: As wildfires burn, Sweden to support ravaged communities, Radio Sweden
United States: Warming, fires, warming, fires: How tundra wildfires could create an unstoppable cycle, Alaska Dispatch News