Stockholmers report forest fire – in Russia

Worries were raised that a forest fire had broken out near Stockholm on Wednesday morning, after members of the public called the fire brigade reporting the smell of smoke. But it turned out that the smoke came from forest fires in St Petersburg - 700 kilometres away.

“We called a number of Swedish embassies on the other side of the Baltic Sea, and were eventually able to confirm that the smell of smoke came from the St Petersburg area,” said Patrik Åhnberg, commander at the Södertörn fire brigade to news agency TT.

The English edition of Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that 29 forest fires are burning in the St Petersburg region, with 41 hectares of forest alight near the Finnish border.

Enquiries yesterday from Finns concerned by the smoke have led the government in Helsinki to ask for a report from Russian authorities.

Meanwhile, while winds from the east meant the smoke was stinging the eyes of Swedes and Finns, St. Petersburg residents were unaffected.

“We haven’t noticed a thing here, but then the St. Petersburg area is about the size of Wales, and most of the forests are in the north,” said Matt Brown, deputy editor of the St. Petersburg Times, to The Local.

In Sweden, the first calls to the emergency services came in from residents of islands in the Nynäshamn archipelago, south of Stockholm. More recently, though, calls have come in from other parts of the region.

There have also been a number of fires in the Stockholm area. The fire brigade says it has been tackling forest fires in Vallentuna and Ekerö and a fire at a dump in Södertälje.