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Fight against forest fire continues in Sweden

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic

Sweden’s largest fire in modern history started a week ago in Västmanland county and has given emergency teams a very difficult task.

The helicopters went back in the air early Thursday to continue fighting the forest fire, and two water-bombing planes took off later in the morning. Two more water-bombing planes were set to take to the air later Thursday.

The Swedish Rescue Services Agency, after two years of testing, in 1995 recommended purchasing a water-bombing plane, the same kind as being borrowed from France and Italy now, saying that without it there could be difficulties fighting fires in the future. But the Defense Department said no, even though the 1995 report said purchasing the plane would save up to 80 percent of damage from a big fire like the one Sweden is experiencing now.

The focus now is about battling the fire in the northeast section of the fire, to keep it from spreading.

The fire did not spread overnight past the border that had been established Wednesday.

In many places that open flames have been put out, the fires can start up again if the winds increase.

However, head of the emergency response, Lars-Göran Uddholm, told Swedish Radio News that the worst thing that could happen is that the weather helps the fire rekindle. He stressed that the fire is still not under control.

Emergency officials were hoping to get an overview of how much damage the fire has done so far. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt visited the fire area Thursday afternoon.

About 1,000 people were still evacuated as of Thursday.

The condition worsened for a man who was badly burned in the fire on Monday. His injuries are considered life-threatening, and his condition is serious. Another man who was in the same logging truck died Monday.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.