Dry weather sparks wildfires in Western Finland

Helicopters are being used to try to quell a number of wildfires in Ostrobothnia. (Jyri Jäntti/Rescue Department of Central Ostrobothnia and Piertarsaari area)
Fires are raging at three peat facilities while a forest fire is also sweeping through part of Central Ostrobothnia, with local rescue service chief Jaakko Pukkinen urging people to avoid campfires in the region.

“The situation is critical. Please don’t start any fires!” Pukkinen said on Thursday.

The month of May has been unusually warm and dry, which has increased the wildfire index to at least 5.5 – just above the risk bracket for a dangerously high probability of uncontrolled blazes.

No rain in sight

Not only that, but no rain is in sight for the foreseeable future, either.

“This aridity just goes on and on,” says meteorologist Paavo Korpela from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. “At the very least for the next ten days.”

Emergency Services have their hands full beating back blazes at a peat manufacturing facility of Lähdeneva in Kaustinen, where three wildfires are still being extinguished with the help of Defense Force personnel and Border Guard helicopters.

Chief Pukkinen says that the firefighting will continue for days, and even after several weeks unattended embers can flare up anew.

The situation is more dire than usual for a Finnish spring, and it seems that nature won’t be helping out for several weeks.

“Air masses start to properly gather moisture after mid-June,” says Korpela. “Showers are more likely after that time.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian researchers now tracking wildfire warning signs with satellites, Radio Canada International

Finland: Ecologists and researchers call for increase of controlled burning of Finnish forests, YLE News

Norway: As Arctic weather dramatically changes, world meteorologists take on more joint forecasting, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Record heatwave in the Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish firefighters control forest fire sparked by machinery, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s firefighters are ready for wildfire season, Alaska Public Media

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