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Undetonated ammunition and 'worst possible weather' delays work to extinguish Swedish forest fires

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Undetonated ammunition and 'worst possible weather' delays work to extinguish Swedish forest fires
A helicopter taking part in efforts to extinguish a forest fire in another area of Sweden, Hammarstrand. Photo: Mats Andersson/TT
16:06 CEST+02:00
Efforts to put out a major forest fire in western Sweden have been delayed by the blaze spreading to a target-practice area where undetonated shells are likely to be present.

Wild fires have been burning through the forest in Älvdalen since Friday, but despite the efforts of 20 firefighters as well as several helicopters, they are not yet under control.

"At 00:30 we were made aware that the area is a so-called 'target area' for artillery, which could mean there is undetonated high-calibre ammunition there. Staff had to immediately evacuate the area with a risk perimeter of 600 metres," Älvdalen municipality explained on their Facebook page on Monday.

"A 700 metre line of water cannons has been created. It is also hoped that we can water-bomb from helicopters in certain places."

Three helicopters were finally able to get in the air and start water-bombing the area later on Monday, after experts were consulted on the possibility of ammo being triggered by the fire, but ground workers have been told to continue to keep their distance.

The fire service is working intensively alongside the Swedish Armed Forces to combat the blaze, Älvdalen municipality explained, but noted the weather is expected to be "the worst imaginable during the day, 30 degree heat, extremely low humidity, and strong winds".

The fire is only one of a number to break out in Sweden in recent days as terrain already bone-dry due to a near rain-free summer combine with a new heatwave, bringing consistent temperatures in the region of 30 degrees Celsius to many parts of the country.

READ ALSO: Sweden issues 'unusual' weather warning as heatwave continues

Some residential homes in Ragunda and Ängra have even been evacuated until forest fires there are brought under control. Neighbouring Norway has sent six helicopters to help Sweden tackle the blazes.

The latest information in English on the different areas affected by fires can be found on Sweden's national website for emergency information.

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