Italian water bombers assisting Sweden in fight against spreading wildfires

Forest fires burn near Ljusdal, central Sweden on July 17, 2018. (Maja Suslin/AFP/Getty Images)
Italian water bombing planes arrived on Wednesday, as emergency services are working nonstop to try to control the fires, with the worst affected areas being Gävleborg, Jämtland, Dalarna, and Hälsingland (central Sweden).

Fire spreading quickly

Britta Ramberg from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency had this to say: “It’s a serious situation. There are many fires. Gävleborg, Jämtland, Dalarna are the hardest hit. They have many ongoing and extensive fires. Jämtland has the largest single fire and it is spreading quickly.”

Help from the EU

Rescue services are placing their hopes in the two special firefighting aircraft that have been flown in from Italy. They have been lent to Sweden for eight days, and are able to scoop up 6,000 liters of water at a time. Norway has also made another two helicopters available, in addition to the six that are already in Sweden – but more help is needed. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, or MSB) has sent requests to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for more firefighters, and has also begun to cancel its staff’s holidays.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven expressed his gratitude to everyone fighting the fires, and said he will be visiting some of the affected areas on Thursday.

Road closures

Spokespersons for the municipality of Härjedalen advise that the E45 road south of Fågelsjö to Sveg and 504 from Sveg to Lillhärdal will be shut to traffic. All small roads between Lillhärdal and Fågelsjö are also closed. There are also road closures in Ljusdal. Road 84 is closed between Kårböle and Laforsen. Drivers are recommended to take the 310 and 296 routes to Los.

Current public safety warnings

Right now there are several important messages to the public (VMA) regarding the fires. These concern the following areas:

  • Högbränna and Tallberg in the municipality of Nordmalm. Forest fires spreading rapidly. Rescue services are urging all who are in direct proximity to the area to leave. Those not immediatetely affected are advised so stay at home and and close doors, windows and ventilation.
  • Härjedalen Municipality, in Jämtland County. Fires in the forests in Olingdal and Härjåsjön risk spreading rapidly to Olingsjövallen. The rescue services advise everyone to vacate the area.
  • Enskogen and Ljusdal municipality, in Gävleborg County. Fires in and around the Enskogen forest in the municipality of Ljusdal. Rescue services are urging all residents to evacuate their homes because the fires are spreading rapidly.
  • Älvdalen, Trängslet in Dalarna County. The fire at a shooting range is spreading rapidly north towards Härjedalen. Rescue services advise everyone to leave the area as soon as possible.
  • Pålgård and Bispgården in Ragunda municipality, in Jämtland County. Heavy fires in forests and fields. Rescue services are urging all those affected by the fires to stay at home and close doors, windows and ventilation.
  • Ängra and Ljusdal municipality, in Gävleborg County. Heavy fires in forests and fields. The fire is heading towards a residential area, and emergency services have advised all residents here to leave. Those in other areas not under imminent risk are advised to stay at home and close doors, windows and ventilation.
  • Kårböle, Ljusdal municipality, in Gävleborg County. The rescue leader urges everyone in the area to walk indoors and close doors, windows and ventilation.
Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Feds announce funding to tackle climate change in Inuit region of Atlantic Canada, Radio Canada International

Finland: Elderly most vulnerable to Finland’s heatwave, Yle News

Norway: Norway’s Arctic islands crush May heat records, The Independent Barents Observer

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

Sweden: Sweden calls for volunteers to help fight raging wildfires, Radio Sweden

United States: Warming, fires, warming, fires: How tundra wildfires could create an unstoppable cycle, Alaska Dispatch News

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