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article imageHeritage village in Norway badly damaged by fire (video)

By Anne Sewell     Jan 20, 2014 in World
Laerdal - A fire broke out in the heritage village of Lærdalsøyri on the Sognefjord, north of Bergen on Sunday morning, destroying over 20 houses and injuring at least 50 people. The village is famed for its 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses.
Lærdal's deputy mayor and chief physician Geir Berge Overland told the Norwegian media that "it was a disaster." For those who were there, it was an inferno, with flames and smoke everywhere. There was also a strong wind on Sunday which made matters even worse.
According to the Norwegian newspaper VG, police said that a helicopter was delayed in accessing the village due to suspected media drones in the air over the village, taking photos of the fire.
"It is important for us to stress that if someone is using drones, they must be get them out of there," police spokesman Nils Erik Eggen said.
"This could create a hazardous situation and may pose a danger to helicopters," he added.
At least 23 buildings were destroyed by 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, including three in the historical conservation area of the village, which is treasured for its unique and historic wooden buildings.
An evacuation of the village was necessary with 300 people staying in Lærdal Hospital for the night, 52 of which were hospitalized for injuries or moved to a larger hospital close by.
With the strong wind, it was almost impossible to extinguish the blaze, but more than 100 fire and police and ambulance workers worked hard to save as many buildings as possible and were active throughout the night.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg [Unlink] praised the rescue workers, saying, "There were a lot of heroes in Lærdal that night," adding "I want to say a big thank you to all those who fought to bring the situation under control."
The village of Lærdalsoyri is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In total 23 buildings, including 16 homes, were destroyed by the fire, several of which are listed as historic monuments. The village is located 200 kilometers northwest of Oslo in Norway
Fortunately most of the village residents have now left the hospital, with only two remaining under medical observation.
Before and after photos give an idea of the destruction:
Lærdalsøyri - Heritage village in Norway
Lærdalsøyri - Heritage village in Norway
Burnt debris of a house in the village of Laerdal  southern Norway  on January 19  2014
Burnt debris of a house in the village of Laerdal, southern Norway, on January 19, 2014
Marit Hommedal, NTB Scanpix/AFP
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