Caution urged over fires as Sweden heats up

With forecasts indicating a continued bout of warm, dry weather in much of Sweden, authorities have urged caution following reports of a number of grass fires over the Easter weekend.

Caution urged over fires as Sweden heats up

In most cases the fires were put out before the fire brigade arrived on the scene and no injuries were reported, but fire services across the country have urged the general public to be on their watch to prevent forest fires.

There were reports of a number of fires on Sunday as temperatures approached 20 degrees Celsius in central and southern areas of the country.

In Västra Götaland in western Sweden, the fire department responded to and extinguished fires in Orust Munkedal and Hova. Similar cases were reported in Södermanland in eastern Sweden – in Vals Berga and Helgarö.

The authorities have warned that the risk of such fires is high in almost the entire country as forecasts indicate that the warm, dry weather is set to persist throughout the week.

The highland areas and coasts along southern Sweden are reported to be at low risk of fires.

After a long, cold winter with bumper amounts of snow, Swedes are being urged to show caution when rushing out into the sunshine to enjoy barbecues and campfires.

Insurance firms are among those warning of the heightened risk as sunshine hours extend and rainfall remains limited.

“It is important that you have full control over the fire and that you are able to extinguish it if necessary. It is dangerous to burn grass because it can spread very easily even burn down buildings,” said Jan Larsson, injury prevention officer at insurance firm Länsförsäkringar Jämtland, in a statement.

Larsson added there is a huge potential financial cost of not managing fires responsibly.

Each year Jämtland County alone spends over 500,000 kronor ($81,745) on injuries caused by grass fires as well as putting extra strain on local fire brigades.

According to the latest weather forecast from the Swedish Meteorological Institute (SMHI) southern and central parts of Sweden will be dominated by sunny weather for most of the week.

Temperatures in Malmö are expected to top 20 degrees Celsius on Tuesday with Stockholm enjoying 15-20 degrees Celsius all week, while northern areas can expect some rain and cooler temperatures.

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Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

Large areas of Sweden saw extreme levels of rain over the weekend, with the city of Linköping receiving more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, twice as it usually receives in the whole of August. 

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

According to Swedish weather forecaster SMHI, the Linköping-Malmslätt area received 96mm between Saturday night at 8am on Sunday morning. The area normally received between 60mm and 70mm in August as a whole. 

“There was such an absurd amount of rain that the data was at first rejected by our system,” Therese Fougman, a meteorologist at the forecaster, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “It is continuing to rain during the day, and it is lying in a band over Östergötland, Sörmland och further up towards Uppland, predicting there would be a further 40mm to 50mm in the next 12 hours. 

The downpours have led to flooding in several areas, and caused traffic problem with cars at risk of aquaplaning on roads such as the E18, which were covered in a thick layer of water. 

Lennart Ågren, who was the duty leader of rescue services in Östra Götaland, told TT on Sunday afternoon that rescuers had been called out to several floods in Linköping and Mantorp. 

“There were streets under water, and water was running into properties so we had to throw all our resources at it for several hours,” he said. 

In Jönköping, rescue services were called out to flooding at a school and in other places, while in Växjö, lightening hit close to the place where a student party was being held at the local university campus. 

In Linköping, rescue services told TT that they had been called out 30 times. “We’ve been stretched but have managed to handle it,” said Pedher Helmer, who was in charge of rescue services in Östergötland over the weekend. 

The heavy rain is expected to move to Blekinge, Skåne, Öland and Gotland over the coming days, with a risk for flooding.