• Sweden edition
 
FOREST FIRE
Emergency crews ready for fire to spread north
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Emergency crews ready for fire to spread north

Published: 05 Aug 2014 07:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Aug 2014 14:49 GMT+02:00

  • Fire labelled 'out of control' and the 'largest in modern history'
  • 1,000 Swedes already evacuated, many on standby.
  • Norberg, population 4,500, on standby for evacuation.
  • Italy and France provide firefighting planes after EU appeal.
  • One man found dead with burns early Tuesday morning.

"The fire risks heading north to the lower reaches of Norberg," Fredrik Eriksson of the emergency services told the TT news agency on Tuesday, adding that the blaze is still far from being under control.

In fact, the fire broke through safety borders set up by emergency workers on Monday. 

The blaze, which has already claimed the life of one, prompted condolences from Sweden's King on Tuesday.

"This is one of the largest forest fires in Sweden in modern times," King Carl Gustaf said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
"I feel deeply concerned for the people who have been asked to leave their homes. I also understand that it is a very tough situation for all those struggling to fight the fire."
 

Newspaper Expressen reported on Tuesday that it had begun raining slightly in Norberg, giving fire fighters hope that the precipitation will slow the flames.

The fire has already prompted visits from Sweden's Defence Minister Karin Enström and Rural Affairs Minister Eskil Erlandsson. Opposition leader Stefan Löfven also headed up on Tuesday, telling the Aftonbladet newspaper that he couldn't continue his campaigning "as if nothing was happening".

Just before 10.30am on Tuesday, the town of Norberg was announced as officially on alert for evacuation as the flames approached. The fire is now so large that the smoke has shown up on Nasa images taken from space.

The Västmanland county council wrote on its Facebook page that while there was no official decision to evacuate the town, but that residents should pack bags and prepare their escape route should the decision be made.

The burning area is estimated to be 15,000 hectares - or the size of 21,000 football fields, reported the Expressen newspaper. 

Shortly after midnight, police discovered the body of a 30-year-old man on a road north of Stabäck, Västmanland, one area affected by the massive fire.

Police said they did not know precisely what had happened to the man or when, but that it was clear he had died from his burns.

The body was impossible to identify due to extreme burns, but police found an ID card on the body and believe they know who the man was.

By 8pm on Monday around 1,000 people had already been evacuated, mostly from isolated homes and small hamlets.

Stefan Lundin, who lives in the middle of Norberg, described the scene on Monday evening:

"I've never been in a war zone, but that was what it made me think of," he told The Local on Tuesday morning. He had sent his 92-year-old grandmother to relatives in Västerås as a precaution, he said.

"There was black smoke over Norberg. You couldn't sleep with the window open."

Despite Norberg being surrounded by forests, major forest fires are rare in the area.

"I've never experienced anything like this. Evacuation - that's what happens in wartime," Stefan Lundin said. He said the centre of the town had been full of city buses, preparing for the possible evacuation. He had seen fire engines from as far away as Hudiksvall and Sundsvall, over three hours drive away.

Residents were "frightened but calm," he said. "People are looking after each other."

While residents are hoping for rain, Sweden's weather agency SMHI predicted another warm day with no chance of rainfall. 

Hard winds had been hampering efforts to control the blaze. The fire was described as “out of control” by firefighters.
 
“We have the worst possible conditions,” said Fredrik Eriksson, spokesman for the fire brigade, on Monday.
 
The area around Norberg and Sala is heavily forested and sparsely populated. The quaint town of Norberg, with its many 17th century buildings, is popular with tourists and day trippers.

Firefighters believe the fire will burn for weeks or even months.

On Monday afternoon, a rescue team saved nine volunteers who were encircled by the flames, shortly before the nearby village of Gammelby was evacuated.

There were originally about 100 volunteers assisting to control the fire, but emergency services declared on Monday they would no longer accept help from the public due to the risk. They added that they're unsure how the fire began.

Emergency services from Västmanland, Uppland, Stockholm, and even Gotland are cooperating with the Swedish military to stop the fire from spreading even further.

In Pictures: Forest fire rages out of control in Sala

Italian and French reinforcement has been called in after Sweden appealed to the European Commission for help. 

"I express my sincere gratitude to the Italian authorities for providing swift support to Sweden in this moment of need. Let us hope that our biggest fear of the blaze spreading to urban areas will not materialise," said Kristalina Georgieva, the responsible European Union Commissioner.

"Forest fires are a risk we tend to associate primarily with southern Europe, but we are seeing that no country is immune," she added.

The hot and stormy summer weather is only compounding the problem.

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Sleepy' politicians seek free gym pass
Sleepy man photo: Shutterstock

'Sleepy' politicians seek free gym pass

A Social Democrat in Eksjö municipality in central Sweden has called for tax-payer funded gym passes to help prevent local politicians from falling asleep during meetings. READ  

Sweden's wolves set for winter cull
Photo: TT

Sweden's wolves set for winter cull

Some 40 wolves, around one tenth of the country's population, could be shot this winter after two Swedish counties set quotas for the upcoming hunt, prompting criticism from conservation groups. READ  

UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children
The UN says Sweden's young offenders should spend less time alone. Photo: TT

UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children

The way Sweden treats children living in detention centres has been strongly criticised by the United Nations Committee against Torture, which also suggested some young offenders had experienced violence by police officers. READ  

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth
Sweden's economy is growing slowly. Photo: Shutterstock

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth

Sweden's economy expanded slightly more than expected in the third quarter of the year, according to statistics published on Friday. READ  

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'
Staff on HMS Vinga and HMS Ulvön are linked to the scandal. Photo: Flickr/V-P Kivimäki

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'

Private messages sent between staff on two Swedish navy boats who were having an affair have been published in Russia, after a group of radio geeks intercepted the signal used to transmit the texts. READ  

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival
Robbie Williams will headline Sweden's biggest music festival in 2015. Photo: TT

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival

This week Robbie Williams was announced as the headline act at Bråvalla - one of the largest music events in Scandinavia. But the British star has proved a controversial choice for the three day festival in southern Sweden's Norrköpping, which takes place in June 2015. READ  

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'
The Swedish Trade Federation said that three times as many companies in Sweden were staging Black Friday deals in 2014 compared to last year. Photo: AP/The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'

More companies in Sweden are rolling out the imported American shopping phenomenon known as 'Black Friday' by slashing prices for post-Thanksgiving purchases. READ  

Skanska quits South America over corruption
File Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

Skanska quits South America over corruption

Swedish engineering giant Skanska has decided to pull out of the South American market after being dragged into a corruption scandal involving the Brazilian oil major Petrobras. READ  

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election
Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt exits the stage after the 2014 election loss. Photo: TT

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election

Sweden's Moderate Party slumped at the polls on election day as it lost the jobs, welfare and immigration debate, according to the party's post election analysis. READ  

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup
Chefs at work:Shutterstock

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup

Sweden claimed two gold and two silver medals at the culinary world cup in Luxembourg this week, which features over 100 teams from around the world competing for gastronomic greatness. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On: November 27th - December 4th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
National
Would you use this app to find a job?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's biggest music festival, Bråvalla
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Blog updates

28 November

St Andrew’s Day and the Way Forward for Scotland (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Sunday is St. Andrew’s Day – Scotland’s national day. It was great to be in Edinburgh this..." READ »

 

28 November

Editor’s blog, November 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers and warm wishes to the rest of you lucky subscribers. We..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

835
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options