Sweden lights forest fire the size of 520 football pitches

A Swedish state-owned forestry firm has lit what is likely the biggest controlled forest fire in the country ever.

Sweden lights forest fire the size of 520 football pitches
The fire in Ejheden Ecopark. Photo: Erik Nyberg/Sveaskog

Sveaskog says the fire in central region Rättvik covered 260 hectares, the equivalent size of 520 football pitches.

The controlled blaze in Ejheden Ecopark is part of nature conservation burning Sveaskog carried out in order to preserve fire-dependent species and in particular insects which struggle to survive now that humans systematically extinguish fires.

READ ALSO: Hot and dry weather creates risk of wildfires across Sweden

The last major fire in the area occurred at the end of the 1800s. The burning creates burned, dead wood which many of the species live on.

“Most of the trees will survive. Some die slowly, which has great importance to insect life. On top of that there are a large number of other species – plants, insects, birds and animals, which favour the open and leafy forest environment created after a fire,” Bruno Bystrand from Sveaskog explained.

Helicopters 'water bombing' the park. Photo: Erik Nyberg/Sveaskog

In order to ensure the fire is properly controlled, helicopters were used to “water bomb” the targeted areas before burning, then again at the end to extinguish fires where necessary.

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