Wildfires mean revised state budget

Hundreds Evacuated From Blaze in Norway

29 January 2014

published by http://online.wsj.com

Norway — Police in central Norway are evacuating hundreds of people from their homes after a third out-of-control wildfire in the past couple of weeks broke out amid unseasonably dry conditions and high winds in some parts of the Scandinavian nation.

The latest wildfire is threatening to destroy houses on the Frøya island in central Norway, a day after more than 50 houses went up in flames in nearby Flatanger. About two weeks ago, 40 houses were destroyed in the western Lærdal village—a blaze that left dozens homeless and has been classified as the nation’s biggest in four decades in terms of the number of houses destroyed.

“We are evacuating inhabitants from a village where the out-of-control fire is approaching,” Frøya deputy mayor Martin Nilsen told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. “The fire isn’t surrounding the houses yet, but it’s approaching the residential areas.”

Regional daily Adresseavisen reported that the police was evacuating 427 people from 180 houses in the affected areas. The police authority in the Sør-Trøndelag county confirmed on its website that it was evacuating people from the Sandvika area by bus, gathering them at a hotel.

Mr. Nilsen confirmed that about 400 people were living in the area that is being evacuated and that one bus had started evacuating people.

Police said the fire wasn’t under control and that fire crews on the ground were fighting the flames with helicopter support. There is strong wind in the area, and police said the fire was spreading quickly despite attempts to contain it, and was closing in on some residential areas.

“The fire is approaching two big lakes, and we hope to use them as a fire gate,” Mr. Nilsen said, adding that helicopters had been tanking fuel and were expected to arrive soon. “We hope to control it before it gets dark tonight.”

The affected Frøya island is about 60 kilometers southwest of yesterday’s big fire in Flatanger, where 55 out of the 139 houses were destroyed by the flames in a 15 square kilometer area affected by wildfire. The Flatanger fire was likely caused by power transmission lines bumping into each other amid strong winds, causing sparks that ignited the vegetation following unusually dry weather with no precipitation for about a month.

“It’s very dry,” Mr. Nilsen said. “We had a meeting in the municipal council today, and were planning to prohibit the use of open fire. Then the alarm went off.”

Some of the helicopters that were heading for Frøya Wednesday came directly from firefighting on Flatanger, where the fire was finally extinguished earlier today after raging since Monday night.

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