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Dry weather, heat spark multiple wildfires in western Finland

A hot, dry month of May coupled with gusty winds and zero rain are wreaking havoc in Ostrobothnia.

Kaustisen Lähdenevan turvepalo alkuvaiheessaan palovalvontalentokoneesta kuvattuna.
Helicopters are being used to try to quell a number of wildfires in Ostrobothnia. Image: Jyri Jäntti / Keski-Pohjanmaan ja Pietarsaaren alueen pelastuslaitos

Fires are raging at three peat facilities while a forest fire is also sweeping through part of Central Ostrobothnia, with local rescue service chief Jaakko Pukkinen urging people to avoid campfires in the region.

"The situation is critical. Please don't start any fires!" Pukkinen said on Thursday.

The month of May has been unusually warm and dry, which has increased the wildfire index to at least 5.5 – just above the risk bracket for a dangerously high probability of uncontrolled blazes.

No rain in sight

Not only that, but no rain is in sight for the foreseeable future, either.

"This aridity just goes on and on," says meteorologist Paavo Korpela from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. "At the very least for the next ten days."

Emergency Services have their hands full beating back blazes at a peat manufacturing facility of Lähdeneva in Kaustinen, where three wildfires are still being extinguished with the help of Defense Force personnel and Border Guard helicopters.

Chief Pukkinen says that the firefighting will continue for days, and even after several weeks unattended embers can flare up anew.

The situation is more dire than usual for a Finnish spring, and it seems that nature won't be helping out for several weeks.

"Air masses start to properly gather moisture after mid-June," says Korpela. "Showers are more likely after that time."

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