Rain helps tame forest fires in northern Finland

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Fire departments and volunteers battle a large forest fire in Pyhäranta, southern Finland on July 19th. Rain helped firefighters gain the upper hand in the fight against wildfires in Eastern Lapland this weekend. (Roni Lehti/AFP/Getty Images)
Rain showers have helped subdue the worst of the forest fires currently raging in Eastern Lapland, according to local police.

“Harder rains are still likely in the whole affected region,” says police communications manager Ari Soppela. “We also hope the precipitation will reach into Russia so as to minimise the risk of renewed fires significantly by next week.”

Soppela says that at least 10-20 ml of rain would be needed to completely quell the fires and their embers.

“We have to keep monitoring the situation and the weather for as long as there are still fires on the Russian side, as some of the blazes may reignite after the rains have passed,” Soppela says.

News agency STT reports that the border guard station at Raja-Jooseppi is now fully operational again after the roads and the station itself were briefly shut down due to the forest fires.

Work continues after flames are out

One wildfire some 1000 kilometres south in Pyhäranta (southern Finland) was successfully quenched on Friday afternoon. Monitoring of the region continued on Saturday night and is still ongoing.

“We found dozens of small smoldering spots but no more flames have erupted,” says fire chief Markus Rautio from the Finland Proper fire department. “We’re still on site with three units today, and we won’t vacate the area until early next week.”

Rautio says that dozens of hectares of forest and a storage shed full of fibreglass boats burned down before the Pyhäranta fire was stopped.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: This year’s exceptional heat is becoming the new normal, scientists warn, CBC News

Finland: Firefighters battle forest fires in northern and southwest Finland, Yle News

Norway: European Arctic swelters under tropical temperatures, breaks heat records, The Independent Barents Observer

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

Sweden: Sweden’s worst-ever wildfires could last for months, Radio Sweden

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

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