Hard-to-extinguish forest fire in Björksele

Airplanes and helicopters have water bombed the area. Archive picture.
Airplanes and helicopters have water bombed the area. Archive picture.

On Wednesday afternoon, two forest fires ignited in the vicinity of Björksele, an area nestled between Lycksele and Malå. One fire, near Trehörningstjärn, proved particularly challenging to control, with predictions indicating several days needed to fully extinguish it, as reported by VK.

Björksele 22 juni 2023 09:49

The alarm was first raised at one in the afternoon on Wednesday about the blaze near Trehörningstjärn in the Lycksele municipality. Shortly thereafter, another distress signal was sent about a second fire on the opposite side of the Vindel River, this one raging in Bergvattnet, northwest of Björksele.

Although firefighters managed to gain control over the Bergvattnet blaze, the situation at Trehörningstjärn evolved more perilously. The fire originated in a clearcut area but subsequently spread to standing forest. Complicating firefighting efforts were the afternoon winds and the dry forest floor conditions.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) deployed two scooping aircraft and a helicopter to water bomb the area, while ground units from four different fire departments worked to contain the blaze. The air resources focused on the burning area from the north, west, and east, while firefighters on the ground laid hoses from the south.

– It requires the deployment of ground troops as well to extinguish smoldering fires in stumps, for example, Thomas Åslin, duty officer at the Rescue Region Mittnorrland, explained to VK.

Later in the evening, Åslin noted the fire's continued spread. It stretched from a height down towards a woodland lake. A working theory is that the fire won't be halted until it reaches the lake, which should then serve as a natural barrier.

– If it burns all the way down to the lake, that's nineteen hectares that have burned, stated Åslin.

He anticipates that extinguishing efforts will continue for several days. Multiple landowners are affected, and the Rescue Region has requested support in the form of an MSB depot.

– It's a container with hoses and other equipment, Åslin clarified.

By eight o'clock on Thursday morning, the extent of the forest fire remained unchanged.

– We have a decent handle on the fire. It continues to burn strongly within the area but hasn't spread out much, noted Jörgen Eriksson, the duty officer at the fire service.

According to the forecast, rain is expected over the area on Thursday afternoon.

– We're cautiously optimistic about the rain. But it's desperately needed in the area regardless, Eriksson told VK.

On Thursday, the fire service will continue to receive assistance from an MSB helicopter to combat the fire.

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