PHOTO: Several thousand people could be evacuated in connection with the big forest fire at Sotra

Sotra forest firePhoto: Skogbrann Helikopter / NTB

Around 500 people have been evacuated after a forest fire started at Sotra in Øygarden, but the number could rise to several thousand, the fire service confirms.

“The total can rise to several thousand, but so far, the police confirmed about 500 evacuees,” Jarl Hestad at the 110 told NTB at 7:50 PM.

“We have a good overview of the fire, but we have not been able to prevent it from spreading. It has spread towards a residential area,” Hestad told NTB just before 7 PM.

Just over an hour later, Hestad told newspaper Bergens Tidende that one house was partially damaged and another completely damaged by the fire. 

According to the fire department, there were no people in any of the houses. At that time, the fire crews still had no control of the fire, and several houses were in danger of being caught by the flames. 

According to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), the fire was spreading to a new residential area in Kårtveitpollen, on the east side of Ågotnes, an area with around a hundred homes.

The police asked residents in the Ågotnes area on Twitter to get ready for evacuation.

Fire service helicopter in action at Sotra in Øygarden Municipality where the fire has spread. An entire residential area has been evacuated. Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB

Critical phase

– Is there a danger that the fire may spread to other buildings?

“There is always a danger as long as it burns. That is what we are trying to prevent,” Hestad told NTB.

“Now we are really in a critical phase in terms of whether we can stop this fire before it escalates in the wrong direction,” Ronald Drotningsvik at 110 told newspaper Bergensavisen at 6:15 PM.

Firefighters injured

According to Bergens Tidende, 150 fire crews from ten fire stations are working on getting rid of the flames. Some of the crews have sustained minor injuries.

“It (note: the injuries) is taken care of by health personnel. There is talk of minor burns and exhaustion. It is a very large fire,” Hestad told the newspaper.

No other injuries have been reported in connection with the fire.

Hestad encourages residents in the area to close windows and stay indoors. 

Too early to say anything about the cause

On Twitter, the Western Police District wrote that they want residents of Maggevarden and Valderhaug to evacuate and meet on the football field at Ågotnes.

“In general, residents in the Ågotnes area can get ready for evacuation,” the police noted.

According to Wikipedia, the town in Øygarden Municipality has over 4,100 inhabitants. It is still too early to say anything about what caused the fire. 

“The police will probably investigate the case,” Hestad told NTB.

Might take several days to extinguish

The wind, which has created problems for the fire crews, has calmed down a bit on Thursday night.

The forecasts show that there will be light winds from the southeast which will eventually turn to the east. 

Hestad in the fire service told BT that it would take time to put out the fire.

“We will be here throughout the night and morning hours. Maybe for several days,” Hestad noted.

The police reported the fire just after noon on Thursday.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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