Sweden ill-equipped to deal with forest fires, report says

A wildfire is seen in Karbole outside Ljusdal, central Sweden, July 15, 2018. (Mats Andersson/TT News Agency/Reuters)
A government report into last summer’s forest fires concluded on Wednesday that Sweden is not sufficiently prepared to fight future large scale wild fires.

“Even though it went well this summer, with a combination of luck and skill – we must draw the conclusion that Sweden is not sufficiently secure from future big forest fires,” said Jan-Åke Björklund, who led the inquiry.

The report found that officials reacted too slowly and too cautiously to fighting the fires in 2018. Some of those involved in fighting the blazes took too long before asking for help from helicopters and the risk assessment was in parts “chaotic”, according to the inquiry.

In particular, there was a problem in smaller municipalities, where fire fighters were not part of a bigger structure of rescue services.

Some 300 different forest fires raged in Sweden during the summer of 2018, in areas ranging in size from a football pitch to up to 9,000 hectares.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Wildfire evacuations have unique impacts on Indigenous communities: study, CBC News

Finland: Arctic Council experts tackle black carbon risk posed by wildfires, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: WWF urges Norway to protect its Arctic forests to help fight climate change, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Forest fires are raging across the Barents region, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish opposition draws ten-point plan for crisis preparedness after massive wildfires, Radio Sweden

United States: 2018 was the 4th-warmest year on record, NOAA and NASA reveal, CBC News

Ulla Engberg, Radio Sweden

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