Fire razes historic villages on Norway coast

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 28 Jan, 2014 Updated Tue 28 Jan 2014 11:16 CEST
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A fire has swept across the Sørnesset peninsular in northern Norway, threatening to raze 139 buildings in two villages completely to the ground.

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Police believe the fire started at about 10pm on  Monday night when sparks from power lines jostled by the wind set the surrounding heather alight. Fanned by a strong wind, the flames reached the villages of Småværet and Hasvåg during the night, wreaking havoc on Tuesday.
Småværet, an old fishing village and trading post, is a piece of Norwegian coastal history, with a large number of listed wooden buildings. 
The area's 33 inhabitants were evacuated before their houses were consumed by the blaze and no one is so far believed to have been injured. 
At first firemen had little hope of saving any of the villages' buildings, but by early on Tuesday afternoon, the 60 firemen working at the site believed that the fire could be contained, saving 50 of the houses. At the same time, they hoped to prevent the fire spreading south to the village of Uran. 
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon,  the local police chief Nils Roger Duna said that 90 buildings had been destroyed. 
"It seems as if we have reasonably good control," he said. "But we can not guarantee that it will not flare up again. It is bone dry and there are still strong winds," he told Adressa. 
Morten Heggdal, another local policeman warned that if the fire passed a protective line the fire services had created to the south of the peninsular, it could spread further inland. 
"The fire is approaching the critical line where the fire department has decided the fire should stop," he said. "If it spreads over the line, we will lose control of the fire again." 
Heggdal's colleague Marte Tronstad Dahl said that the fire was the result of the freak weather conditions in the area, with a complete lack of rainfall combined with icy cold and wind.
"The result is that the heather and other vegetation have been freeze-dried, and the flames have taken hold and spread explosively as a result," he told Aftenposten. 
Earlier this month, parts of a heritage village in Lærdal were gutted in a similar uncontrollable blaze, injuring some 50 people. 



The Local 2014/01/28 11:16

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