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Large forest fire blazes in central Sweden

Staff Writer |
A large forest fire in central-eastern Sweden is not under control after 17 hours despite efforts to fight it both on the ground and from the air.

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Four helicopters have carried out water bombing in an attempt to extinguish the blaze, and 150 members of the emergency services and armed forces were fighting the fire on Tuesday morning, as well as volunteers.

They were forced to take a break during the night due to darkness, after the first alarm came at 2.30 pm, but resumed work around sunrise.

Around 25 people were evacuated on Monday as a precaution in Sala, Västmanland, but so far no injuries have been reported. Although the fire was not under control after several hours of work, the affected area had decreased from two to 1.5 square kilometres.

"The intensity of the fire has decreased slightly with the temperature and humidity of the night," said Robin Haglund, a fire engineer at Greater Stockholm's fire department.

But he added: "The weather forecast is for increased wind, and that is one of the critical factors. It will last a whole day. We still don't dare say that we have the fire under control."

No further evacuations were planned for Tuesday, though some roads in the area remained blocked.

The fire is located the same area that was affected by severe forest fires in 2014. An estimated million kronor of damage was caused by those blazes, but Haglund said that this time emergency services were able to get resources to the site faster.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) issued an official warning of an "extreme risk" of forest fires in many parts of the country in late May, due to recent dry weather.

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