Sunny weather raises Europe wildfire risk

Sunny weather raises Europe wildfire risk

27 April 2011

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Europe — For the last several weeks most of Europe has seen incredible weather.

Clear skies and unseasonably warm temperatures have been welcomed by many people as an early taste of summer.

Unfortunately, too much of a good thing does come with its consequences.

Along with these sunny skies has also come much drier air. And that has led to the potential for wildfires to soar.

In Switzerland 10 helicopters and 350 firemen have been battling a forest fire near the town of Viege, in the south of drought-stricken Switzerland.

So far the fire has consumed about 100 hectares (250 acres) of forest.

The fire, which was brought under control on Wednesday, was started a day earlier from the flames of a burning car in the town and spread by the high winds.

Over the past few weeks several Swiss Cantons have imposed bans on lighting fires in the forested areas because the region is experiencing one of the worst droughts in over 150 years.

A little further to the northwest a forest fire is destroying large portions of a nature reserve in Belgium, close to the German border. The battle against the fire continued on Tuesday with fire fighters trying to stop any new fires from spreading.

The forest fire broke out on Easter Monday near the city of Eupen and has already destroyed around 1,000 hectares of forest.

The reason for the outbreak is unclear, but officials are pointing to the carelessness of people walking through the national park during Easter.

The affected nature reserve is the largest in Belgium, home to many endangered plants and animals.

Fortunately over the next several days much needed rain and cooler weather are in store for the affected areas.

Around 1,000 hectares of forest have been scorched by fires on the Belgium German border [EPA]

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