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First ever brush fire danger alert

12.05.2021 - 10:12
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Freyr Arnarson - RÚV
Icelandic civil protection authorities have declared a danger alert for brush fires for the first time ever. The decision, which includes a ban on all open flames, was taken yesterday in collaboration with the fire brigades of the Westfjords, West Iceland, the capital region, Suðurnes, and South Iceland.

“The outcome is an increase in the civil protection alert to ‘danger’ and that is being done in light of the situation. It has been extremely dry recently. This is usually the month with the least rain, but now there is unusually little rain despite that. There is little else to do in the situation than to increase the civil protection alert,” said assistant civil protection police chief Rögnvaldur Ólafsson.

“It also covers a large area. Unusually large. It has not been this large before,” he added. 

The danger alert stretches from Breiðafjörður in the west to Eyjafjöll in the south. It is the first danger alert for brush fires Iceland has ever implemented. Such alerts are declared if the health or safety of people, the environment, or settlements are endangered by natural or manmade causes. A danger alert is higher than an uncertainty alert and lower than a state of emergency. 

There has been very little rain for several weeks and the weather forecast does not promise any soon. There has been a spate of fires across the extended region and fire brigades have been busy. 

Under the danger alert, open flames are prohibited, and people are especially reminded of this when it comes to summerhouses and what could be considered open flames: not only charcoal barbecues, but also wood burners, fire pits, and some power tools that create sparks.  

People are reminded to refresh their escape plans and to wet down vegetation immediately around their summerhouse. 

Fire fighters have been patrolling, and have been adding and repositioning fire extinguishers and other tools to optimise their accessibility in areas at the most risk. According to data from the capital region fire brigade, there have been 20 wild fires in the first ten days of May. 

“Handling open flames is banned. It’s that simple. Where people have been going into vegetated areas, barbecuing and having fun and that sort of thing. They need to skip all fire in that regard, just go out with sandwiches and biscuits,” Rögnvaldur says. 

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