Fire helicopter at standby and 55 firefighters busy in Agder
A forest fire helicopter soaked important parts of the area where it burns in Vindlandsheia on Saturday. The situation is improved, but 55 firefighters are still at work on the ground.
Many of the firefighters come from the Civil Defense – 13 from Aust-Agder, 10 from Vestfold and 11 from Drammen in Buskerud.
On Saturday morning the wind was at 8 metres per second, but the fire department believes that despite the wind it is possible to control the outer perimeter of the fire raging between Birkenes and Grimstad. The wind has caused the forest fire, which started Thursday, to have flared up in several places where it previously had been extinguished.
– I will say that the situation is better now than it was in the morning, says the Operational Manager at the Emergency Centre, Kjell Christian Knarvik to Agderposten on Saturday afternoon.
The fire helicopter landed at Kjevik at 2 pm on Saturday after it had quenched key parts of the area on fire with water. The helicopter is at ready and will lift off again and head for Vindlandsheia if, and when, additional air assistance is required.
Not under control
Firefighters worry about what can happen if the wind gets stronger, which it duly has done. On Saturday afternoon it was blowing relatively hard in the area.
– We are talking about an easterly strong breeze, up to 10 metres per second. The fire itself can also generate wind systems, State Meteorologist Kristen Gislefoss announced earlier in the day.
The fire department is aware that they are far from being in control inside the forest. The use of a heat-seeking drone has shown that the entire area is overheated and that there are embers beneath the top layer.
– We have managed to contain the fire within the 200 acres we have reached so far, but I’m not in the modus to say we are in control. Far from it, says Chief Operational Officer from the Kristiansand region Fire and Rescue (KBR), Jan Røilid tot Fædrelandsvennen on Saturday afternoon.
Lots of forest fires
On Saturday there were heavy showers accompanied by thunder and lightning, something the firefighters’ fears will lead to several simultaneous fires. The fires from last week in Setesdal flared up again, and the rainfall that accompanies the thunderstorm is probably insufficient to extinguish the fires and embers.
It burned in many other places in southern Norway on Saturday. At 4 pm a fire helicopter took off to assist in the extinguishing of a forest fire in Dalansheia in Vegårshei. The fire department in Telemark states that there are 19 ongoing forest fires in the county.
On Saturday there was a fire in the mountainside in Undredal in Aurlandsfjorden in Sogn og Fjordane as well. It is difficult or impossible for crews to access the area with conventional extinguishing equipment, and they are therefore entirely dependent on fire helicopter assistance. No buildings or people are in danger, states the West police district.
At Lunde in Sirdal, a fire resurged on Saturday, and even there a forest fire helicopter was required.
More helicopters during the weekend
The Directorate for Security and Preparedness (DSB), is now increasing forest fire preparedness further through the weekend, due to the forecasted thunderstorms. This means that four forest fire helicopters will be added to the twelve which are already at standby.
DSB Director Cecilie Daae is stupefied that there are still reports of fires that have started near water or lakes, which may indicate that there are people who think it’s ok to barbeque or build a fire if you stay near to water.
– As dry as it is now, it takes very little to start a fire. Each of us must exercise caution and act in such a way that fires are not started. It applies to everyone, all the time and everywhere. If not, we risk major destruction – not just forests and pastures, but also buildings and homes. The worst case scenario is that lives can be lost, says Daae.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today