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Friday's papers: Forest fires, algae tests and fear of war

Papers on Friday suggest Finns are less worried than before about possible wars, advises how to test beaches for algae and covers the southwestern forest fires.

Sammutustöitä Pyhärannassa 19. heinäkuuta.
A helicopter and a fire engine work to put out fires in Pyhäranta, south-west Finland. Image: Roni Lehti / Lehtikuva

Alma Media reports its on poll of Finns' worries and values, with Kauppalehti focusing on the fear of war. It's declined since the last similar poll two years ago, especially among the young.

In 2016 some 31 percent of 18-35-year-olds surveyed said they thought Finland would be attacked in the next ten years or after that. Now that figure has dropped to 20 percent, narrowing the gap with older age groups which have consistently been less concerned about the chances of a new war.

The paper asks Jyri Raitasalo of the Defence Forces University why. He speculates that this could be because attention has shifted away from Russia's actions in Crimea. Finns were more worried when the news was dominated by reports of Finland's neighbour forcibly annexing part of a neighbouring country. Now the news agenda has moved on, so too have young people's concerns.

Firefighting in the south-west

The forest fires in Pyhäranta in Finland's south-west might not be on the same scale as those in neighbouring Sweden, but they've been widely covered in Finnish papers with one eye on what's happening elsewhere in Europe.

Ilta-Sanomat, for instance, has several stories on the fires including picture galleries and videos. The local council is arranging help for the 50 people forced to evacuate because of the blaze, while volunteers and firefighters are working to limit the damage and damp down the burned-out forest.

Firefighters tell IS that the fire is even burning underground, as the peaty soil ignites. Dealing with that requires plenty of water, and rain is not forecast in the region for several days.

Algae testing

Helsingin Sanomat looks at one obsession of Finns during a hot spell: getting into the water to cool off. There's one problem along the south coast, however, as the blue-green algae that can spread all manner of maladies is now present at many swimming spots.

The paper looks at how the algae is detected, using a test distributed to lifeguards on Helsinki's beaches. The test showed some waters were clean, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's safe to dive in--the harmful bacteria could be present even after the algae breaks up.

The problem, HS reminds readers, is high levels of phosphates in the Baltic Sea. These have accumulated from years of fertiliser run-off from farmland and poorly-treated waste water. It is possible to limit the risk, and Helsinki has improved the situation on inland lakes through better waste water management, but there are decades of discharges in the sea now and many of them come from other states around the Baltic shoreline.

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