EU coordinates further assistance to help Sweden fight forest fires | News | DW | 21.07.2018

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EU coordinates further assistance to help Sweden fight forest fires

The European Commission has promised extra help for Sweden as it struggles to contain dozens of forest fires. Emergency services said the number of fires had been halved but dozens still blaze.

The European Commission (EC) on Saturday pledged to provide additional help for Sweden as it seeks to contain dozens of fires that have been raging for over a week across hundreds of hectares of the country and parts of Finland and Norway.

"The Commission has been working 24/7 since Sweden requested EU assistance to battle the unprecedented forest fires as hundreds of hectares burn in the regions of Jamtland, Gavleborg, Dalarna, Norrbotten and Vasterbotten," according to a statement.

Aircraft are already being provided by Italy and France and more support will be offered by Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Denmark through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

"The EU stands by the Swedish government and the Swedish people in their time of need," said the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. "This is solidarity in action. This is what our citizens expect in a Europe that protects," he added.

The blazes are mostly in central and western Sweden but also in the north, above the Arctic Circle, and on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland.

Number of fires halved

Sweden's Swedish emergency services, SOS Alarm, said on Saturday that the number of fires had been cut to 44 by 9:00am (07:00 UTC) on Saturday, down from about 80 on Friday night.

Swedish Radio reported that the fires in the Ljusdal municipality are believed to be the largest in modern Swedish history, with over 13,000 hectares (32,123 acres) of forest on fire, spread over three large fires.

No deaths or injuries have been reported so far but large evacuations have taken place.

Weather forecasts are predicting light showers on Sunday after several days of unusually high temperatures in Europe's Nordic region of over 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit).

Help from many sources 

About 500 voluntary soldiers from the Swedish military have been sent to the key areas in the central region of Alvdalen and the government has asked for help from the military, hundreds of volunteers and other European nations

A German organization has also sent five helicopters with specialized equipment to help, while 140 Polish firefighters and 44 fire engines have been sent to help.

Watch video 01:33

As Europe swelters, even Scandinavia feels the burn

jbh/jm (dpa, AP)

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