Very large flames and heavy smoke surrounded congested Highway 63 South, during the sudden evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016. Wikipedia Commons License, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landscape_view_of_wildfire_near_Highway_63_in_south_Fort_McMurray.jpg
05 Jul 2023

Northern Swedish county prepares for Canadian level of wildfires: Towns and human lives may start to be at risk in 2023

The fire services of the county of Medelpad is looking to Canada for their wildfire preparedness: Climate change is increasing the risks of residential structures being threatened by forest fires, similar to 2016 when most of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta burned down.   

Canada has historically had problems with cities being destroyed by fire. Nowadays, such risks also exist in Sweden, according to the emergency services.

"We have to take that (risk) seriously", says Mats Bergmark at the rescue service in Medelpad to Swedish Television, Svt.se. 

The city of Fort McMurrey suffered a major disaster in  spring of 2016 when a massive wildfire destroyed 2,400 buildings and caused multi-billion dollar damage. Over 80,000 people were evacuated, and many travellers took great risks travelling on the highway south, with strong radiant heat from the fires threatening to strand fleeing motorists in the middle of raging forest fires near the highway. (Read more on this fire on Wikipedia)

In the summer of 2021, during the June-July heat dome, the town of Lytton, BC burned down more or less completely, as CTIF.org has previously reported. 

The situation that historically existed in Canada has now arisen in Sweden in step with climate change, says Mats Bergmark at the rescue service inthe city of  Sundsvall, who for a long time studied the impact of climate change on fire risks in the forest.

He believes risks are now apparent that centres of human habitat - and consequently also human lives - may be at stake in Sweden should an out-of-control forest fire situation occur:

"There are such risks", he explains, adding that today's forest fire risks in Sweden are comparable to how it was in Canada already before and that "we must take the situation very seriously".

 

New scale for fire risk

Currently the Rescue Service in Medelpad and many others have moved from the old five-point risk scale to a Canadian model. In the summer of 2018, when large forest fires last raged in Sweden,  it was well up on the Canadian scale. This year's drought is making the forecasted risks of a difficult fire season 

 
Photo Credit:
Very large flames and heavy smoke surrounded congested Highway 63 South, during the sudden evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016. Wikipedia Commons License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landscape_view_of_wildfire_near_Highway…