This is a header I never thought I had to use. When catastrophes strike you are normally used to get this out of the news, because it’s somewhere far far away from you. Not this time. Five days ago, I was enjoying my morning coffe but suddenly my nose caught a smell. I had noticed that it was no sunshine outside that morning, but what I thought was fog was actually smoke from the forest fire raging just 30 km from us.
We knew that there was a forest fire, but we were under the impression that it was something the firefighters were able to handle. The hottest summer in Sweden, paired with strong winds created the best environment for the fire to get out of controle in a VERY short time.
Of course we thought of Barley right away, who is currently enjoying the pasture 24/7.
The smoke was burning in eyes and throat and had given me a headache just a few minutes after stepping out of the house.
When I came to the pasture, I found all the horses calm…though I had to get really close to find them in this smoke.
This picture I took about 20 meters away from Barley. I felt terrible for all the animals in the smoke.
From that moment on we followed the news much closer, both on the radio and of course on facebook.
Over 1000 people were evacuated and thousands of animals had to be evacuated, too.
I took even pictures of the helis flying forth and back close to our home on August 5th, but you can’t see them. The smoke was so thick that the pictures just show a blur.
Close to our home is a small airport where the helicopters returned for refueling, I suppose.
The forest fire got so out of hand that for the first time in history Sweden actually asked for international help. Two planes from Italy and two planes from France were sent.
The disappointment was huge, when the planes had arrived but weren’t able to take off because of all the smoke. We couldn’t believe our ears when we heard this on the news.
It was so sad, everybody thought that the help had arrived and then the helpers weren’t able to act because the smoke was so bad that they pratically had NO vision at all.
On the evening of August 7th we suddenly heard a familiar sound. PLANES !!!! 😀
We went outside and saw that all 4 planes were on the way.
You can’t imagine our delight when we saw the two planes from Sécurité civile and the two Italian planes on their way to fight the fire. Their capacity is much bigger than what the helicopters are able to carry.
Reports came in that people 1000 km further north had smelled the smoke. Pictures from NASA where shown on the news where the smoke actually could be seen on satellite images.
The map from August 8th shows that there is still a big fire in the East and smaller fires in the North and West. Within the whole area are still smaller fires everywhere.
Four days ago they said on the news that the fire had destroyed and are of about 150 square kilometers. Yesterday I heard that it’s now 200 square kilometers.
I got the picture above from my DOH while I was at the stable. He told me that the heli came right over our roof top and hoovered for about 4-5 minutes of the field right behind our backyard. All neighbours came running out, because everybody was wondering if the pilots had spotted fire close to us somewhere, but then they suddenly took off.
The preliminary feedback from the authorities this morning is that 25 homes have burned down. Huge areas are still under lock down, which means that people and animals were evacuated and are not allowed to return until the authorities have given their ok.
What I heard from the media was, that over thousand people had to be evacuated and thousands of animals were moved to other stables or pastures outside the danger zone.
So many people offered their help for everything!!! People went and bought food and drinks for the fireworkers and the evacuated families. Clothes for the families and toys for the children were donated and distributed immediately through the help organizations.
Even bigger companies tried to help. ICA and COOP (huge supermarkets) donated food for all the heroes fighting the fire. Hotels in Västerås offered rooms for those who were evacuated. IKEA offered beds for tents, pillows, covers, food etc. People offered to pick up animals that had to be evacuated in their horse trailers and stables offered boxes and pastures. Others went out and bought food for the evacuated animals and wrote on facebook ‘Everybody who needs food for evacuated animals, just come and pick it up!’
Farmers brought in their machines and with some tweeks set them up to fight the fire instead of spreading fertilizer.
Hundreds of fire fighters working for over a week now with just a couple of hours of sleep in between. They are not just from around here, some of them are from far away, with no connections to the area, professionals as well as private people.
I have to say that I am amazed by those people and have the deepest respect for all who are risking their lifes out there to save others! The authorities have highlighted now several times about trees that are not burned can be a danger, too. The fire travels now under the surface and has burned a lot of roots. Perfectly healthy looking trees can just fall at any given moment.
So, the danger is far from over but there are still hundreds of people out there giving their best. Fire fighters, police, military, private organizations, normal ‘every day’ people, farmers, medical personnel, you name it! To all of them :
You are doing an amazing job!!!
Take care and stay save, so that you can return to your families!!!
From our side, we are doing fine. We haven’t had smoke in four days and Barley can enjoy a smoke free pasture again.
All the best to you!
Barley and I