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Wednesday 19.12.2018 | Name days: Sarmis, Lelde
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Fire in Valdgale held at bay within perimeter; Crisis Management Council calls emergency meeting

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULast night, firefighters in Latvia managed to hold at bay the fire that had run through Valdgale County last week within the safety perimeter, says State Fire and Rescue Service press-representative Inta Palkavniece.

Fire fighters have been trying to put out the massive fire in Talsi Parish of Valdgale County for six days. The fire has already burned down a large area of a local forest.

Fire fighters worked tirelessly last night to prevent the fire from spreading, says Palkavniece. Smouldering still continues in some areas. On others burning continues with an open flame. Fortunately, all this is happening within the safety perimeter established by fire fighters. Efforts to hold off the fire within the perimeter have been continuing for several days, he says.

SFRS adds that putting out a fire of this scale is long and hard work. Continuous peat burning makes it even harder; making it possible for fire to pop up from under the ground and rapidly spread to dry trees, twigs and leaves. Palkavniece also allows that the first air pollution test results from the surrounding area may become available Monday, 23 July. SFRS urges residents to stay away from the fire and put on hold any plans to pick berries or have a walk near areas with a strong presence of fumes and other products of burning. If residents sense the smell of something burning or see a clear presence of smoke, they are advised to close all doors and windows.

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis told Latvijas Radio on Monday, 23 July, that an emergency meeting of the Crisis Management Council has been called. During this meeting, officials will decide if additional resources are required to hold back and finally put out the fire within the established perimeter.

The minister explained that peat fire goes as deep below ground level as 1 m. Because of that, it is best not to risk the lives of fire fighters by sending them deeper into the perimeter. He said the main objective is holding the fire back within the perimeter. The Crisis Management Council will decide if there is any need to allocate additional resources to the area of emergency.

Kozlovskis stressed that Latvian fire fighters have been working non-stop for nearly a week. SFRS states they have enough resources to keep the fire at bay. Nevertheless, officials will consider the necessity of foreign aid in fire-fighting efforts.

It is also highly important to consider the effect smoke may have on nearby populated areas, added the official.

As it is known, the fire started in Valdgale County’s peat bog in the evening on Tuesday, 17 July. The fire then quickly spread to a nearby forest.

Latvia’s State Forests has yet to provide any information on the extent of damage the fire has caused to the forest. Data from EU Copernicus Emergency Management Service shows that at least 1,010.5 ha of forest had burned down by Sunday, 22 July.

Information from satellites shows that at least 267 ha of forests, 311.7 ha of greenery, as well as 431.8 ha of peat bog have burned down.

Stikly Village in Puze Parish was evacuated because of heavy smoke. However, some residents returned to their homes on Saturday. Ventspils County Council Chairman Aivars Mucenieks said those people signed a document, stating they take full personal responsibility for their well-being.


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