Large forest fire continues to burn into third day in southern Norway

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A large forest fire that started on Monday, June 9 is still out of control in the municipality of Froland in southern Norway. The fire is the largest forest fire to occur in Norway since World War II.

The fire has spread extensively and it is estimated that approximately 2,500 acres of forest have been damaged. Approximately 15 cabins are reported to have burned to the ground, but as of yet, no permanent dwellings or farms have been damaged. However, many inhabitants have been evacuated due to the fire threatening their homes, including the entire villages of Mykland and Belland. There have also been some power outages due to power lines being damaged.

Approximately 140 persons, including fire-fighters from several fire departments, and personnel from the Civil Defence and the Home Guard are working to curtail the fire. Four fire helicopters have been deployed. The fire fighting is focused on areas where the fire threatens buildings.

Extremely dry weather, and difficult wind conditions, have caused severe difficulties in fighting the fire. Fire-fighters first had hope of gaining control on the morning of Thursday, June 12, but the wind changed direction during the day, causing a large extension of the fire. There is some hope that the weekend will bring some rain; however, this will likely not be enough to stop the fire. It could take several weeks before the fire is completely extinguished.