Forest fires in Sweden over dry weather

     Forest fires in Sweden over dry weather

3 June 2008

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Sweden — Eight helicopters and some 150 firefighters, home guards and other volunteers were Tuesday combating a large blaze that has raged for several days in central Sweden, reports said.

The blaze near Hassela, some 350 kilometres north of Stockholm, was one of two blazes in the region that began over the weekend.

The region is sparsely populated and there were no reports of injuries or damage to private homes, although a few homes were evacuated as a precaution.

Dry weather and shifting winds have hampered efforts to contain the Hassela blaze that was estimated to have destroyed some 500 to 1,000 hectares of forest, firefighters told local media.

Firefighters said Tuesday they had contained a smaller forest fire in a nearby area.

A spark from a forest machine was believed to have caused one of the blazes.

Forestry group Holmen and the forest-owners’ association Mellanskog temporarily halted timber cutting in Gavleborg county over the risk that sparks from machines may cause new fires.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency and the meteorological agency SMHI issued warnings over the risk of forest fires in parts of southern Sweden after several weeks of dry weather and little precipitation.

Several of Sweden’s 21 counties have banned open fires and only allowed outdoor grilling at specially designated sites.

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