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article imageForest fires blaze from the Arctic circle and all across Sweden

By Karen Graham     Jul 20, 2018 in World
Sweden's government is asking for international help in fighting forest fires that have spread across the country. The fires have reached north into the Arctic Circle, with 44 burning from Lapland in the far north to the southern island of Gotland.
Hot temperatures, along with long periods without rain have created tinder-box conditions across Sweden, and the national weather service has issued fire warning for most of the country, reports The BBC.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven held a press conference Friday morning alongside Dan Eliasson, the head of Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency which is tasked with coordinating the ongoing fire and rescue efforts.
Prime Minister Löfven visited one of the worst affected areas of the blazes yesterday and calls the situation "extreme." He added that Sweden is receiving assistance from several EU countries. "Our cooperation with the EU and our neighbors has worked very well," he said.
Eliasson warned people "not to underestimate" the situation. "We are in the most serious and difficult situation Swedish fire and rescue services have ever been in," he said. "This could escalate."
It's estimated that two million cubic meters (70.6 million cubic feet) of forest at a value of around 600 million kronor has been destroyed by the flames, and because there are so many fires, firefighting resources have been stretched to the limits.
The heatwave has brought uncharacteristically hot dry weather to much of Europe. The European Forest Fire Information System has warned that fire conditions will persist in central and northern Europe over the next few weeks. What is unusual is that the fires are outside Europe's Mediterranean fire zone, EU officials said.
Italy has sent two "water bombers" capable of dropping 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) at a time. Norway is also reported to have sent 10 helicopters, even though there is a risk of similar fires starting in Norway.
Arctic Fires blazing
The European Arctic isn't the only part of the far north seeing increased fire activity. Two fires that started Tuesday this week in Alaska's Galena Zone have brought the number of fires up to 35.
"The Alaskan fires and some of the Swedish fires were ignited by lightning strikes, which is in keeping with research published in 2017, which found that warmer temperatures were increasing thunderstorms over boreal forests and Arctic tundra, leading to more fires," Scientific American reported, according to Eye Witness News.
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