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Sweden's Massive Forest Fire Lit by Record Temperatures

Aug 11, 2014 03:20 PM EDT
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A massive forest fire in Sweden has been raging for 11 days, and has grown into the largest fire the country has seen within the last four decades. This fire is occurring in the wake of the highest temperatures Sweden has ever experienced on record, and experts are quick to point out that this is no coincidence.

Since July 31, a massive wildfire has swept through the forests of Västmanland, Sweden. As of last Friday, the fire had charred more than 60 square miles of terrain and is suspected to have killed one person, according to the Swedish emergency authorities.

As of August 7, the fire was deemed a national emergency, and the Swedish Armed Forces was mobilized to aid firefighters and help facilitate an orderly evacuation of affected and threatened areas.

A fire of this size is extremely uncommon in Sweden, which traditionally experiences fores fires that encompass a few square miles at most, according to the International Forest Fire News. In fact, fires are so rare in the region that the Swedish movement actually prescribes controlled burning of old and dried brush to promote healthier woods.

(Photo : OpenStreetmap/Valmyndigheten/Länstyrelsen Västmanland)

However, this may all change in the wake of recent climate warming in the region, where some parts of Sweden are experiencing the highest temperatures and dry conditions they have ever seen on record. NASA's Earth Observatory is seeing record temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit for late July into Early August, and with trade winds changing across the world's oceans, this dry season is not expected to let up.

The Swedish government has expressed its confidence that the historic fire will be effectively contained, and once that occurs, they will launch an investigation into how to better prepare for fires like this in the future.

"The fire in Västmanland is still burning. The continued focus is on fighting the fire and protecting lives and property. But when the immediate crisis is over, it is important that we begin the work of seeing what lessons can be learned," the Government Offices of Sweden said in a recent statement. "This is important in any crisis, and never more so than in events of this exceptional nature."

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