Switzerland – The Swiss environment office raised the risk of forest fires in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino to its maximum level on Tuesday after a prolonged dry spell and strong winds provoked several blazes in the region. Swiss and Italian firefighters battled two forest fires in the Lake Maggiore region over the weekend, before another blaze broke out in Gordola, near Locarno, on Tuesday, according to news agencies.
Three helicopters, including a Swiss army Super Puma, were used on Tuesday evening to combat the flames, however the fire continued to gain ground during the night, according to local paper 20 Minuti.
The risk level in Ticino is now at the highest possible level, the only canton in the country to reach the maximum five out of five. However parts of Graubünden are currently at four, classed as a strong danger of forest fire.
The situation on Tuesday wasnt helped by a strong foehn wind bringing gusts of up to 110km/hr to the Ticino region, a MeteoSuisse spokesman told news agency ATS.
Elsewhere in the country the risk is lower, helped by a spell of colder weather on Tuesday which brought rain and snow to parts of eastern Switzerland, particularly around Lake Constance and northern Graubünden.
Switzerland has experienced an unusually dry winter particularly in December which meteorologists said was the driest December for 150 years and later in the season when many low-altitude ski resorts suffered from lack of snow.