The ploy worked, as help soon arrived, but the man hadn’t counted on the fire spreading so fast that it claimed his tent and prompted a major fire-fighting operation on the rugged and sparsely populated island, newspaper Nordlys reports.
The tourist was camping alone on Hillesøy island, near Tromsø, when he fell and broke his foot. Since the island lacks mobile phone coverage, he was left with little option but to resort to smoke signals.
“He lay there for three days waiting to be discovered but on the third day, today (Thursday), he realized he had to do something himself,” said Jøran Bugge, who headed the police rescue operation.
The tourist was taken by air ambulance to Tromsø University Hospital, where his injuries were described as “moderate”.
After initially appearing to die out, the fire raged again on Thursday evening, threatening to engulf the island’s radar station.
“It’s illegal to start this kind of fire, but in this case the police aren’t going to take any action,” said Bugge.
Two army helicopters were dispatched to help quell the flames. Around 20 fire fighters eventually succeed in bringing the blaze under control shortly before 7am on Friday.
Some 200 to 300 people live on the other side on the island but there was little risk of the fire spreading to built-up areas, emergency services spokesman Tore Hagerup told news agency NTB.