• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
FOREST FIRE
Emergency crews ready for fire to spread north
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Emergency crews ready for fire to spread north

The Local · 5 Aug 2014, 14:49

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.

Story continues below…

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 news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape'
Tech star Tayyab Shabab, who is being threatened with deportation. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish politicians are keen to talk up the country's startups – but their migration rules threaten to strangle them, argues The Local's managing editor James Savage.

Startup heavyweights back tech ace told to leave Sweden
Spotify founder Daniel Ek is one of the big tech names backing Tayyab Shabab (right). Photo: Ingvar Karmhed/SvD/TT & personal

Major names in the tech community have rallied behind a developer who was told he must leave Sweden within a month due to an admin error made by his former employer.

Why Sweden could deport hundreds of refugee children
A home for lone refugee children in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Several hundred lone refugee children could now be sent home from Sweden due to a change in how the rule on exceptional circumstances is applied when making asylum decisions.

Rare and horny ox spotted looking for ladies in Sweden
The ox in question. Photo: Pia Jäderberg

Unfortunately he isn't likely to be successful.

Russian bombers spook Sweden-bound flight
A Russian Tupolev bomber not related to the story. Photo: STR/TT

A flight bound for Stockholm from Reykjavik got a nasty surprise last week when its pilot spotted two Russian bombers from his window.

One dead after Malmö drive-by shooting
Police cars outside the hospital where some of the people shot were taken. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

UPDATED: One of the four men injured in a drive-by shooting in Malmö has died, police confirmed on Monday.

In pictures
How a Swedish hotel reunited this bear with his best friend
The bear having a croissant for breakfast. Photo: Kristoffer Kinnunen/Hotel Avalon

A Gothenburg hotel's attempt to track down the owner of this lost teddy bear turned into something much bigger.

World Cup of Hockey
Europe sends Sweden home from World Cup
Tomas Tatar scores a winning goal against Sweden's Henrik Lundqvist. Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

Sweden was kicked out of the World Cup of Hockey after losing to Team Europe in overtime.

Poetry can 'save Arab world' says Nobel Prize hopeful
The Gothenburg Book Fair. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Speaking at the Gothenburg Book Fair, Syrian poet and possible Nobel Prize contender Adonis said that religious fanaticism is 'destroying the heart of the Arab world', but sees salvation in poetry.

My Swedish Career
'As long as you hook Swedes on the first try, they'll be back'
Kerryn Beattie (left) and Craig Donovan (right), founders of the Nordic Kiwi Brewers. Photo: Nordic Kiwi Brewers

The Local speaks to a Kiwi expat who took on the tricky world of microbreweries in Stockholm and won.

Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
Blog updates

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
National
Where Sweden's foreigners are from
Gallery
People-watching: September 9th-11th
The Local Voices
Shakib, 23, works and pays taxes — but will Sweden let him stay?
National
Watch this Swede roll his kayak without spilling his beer. Respect.
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,963
jobs available