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Sparks from steam-powered museum train ignite grass fires

Firefighters in the central region of North Savo spent two hours putting out three small blazes on Friday.

Höyryjuna Ukko-Pekka ajaa Taavetin asemalla
An Ukko-Pekka locomotive pulls a museum train through the Taavetti station. Image: Soini Hatinen

A historic train pulled by a steam locomotive caused three grass fires in Finland's centrally located region of North Savo on Friday, leading to a two-hour delay of local train traffic while rescue crews extinguished the flames. News of the fires was first reported by the regional paper Savon Sanomat.

Sonkajärvi fire chief Antero Oikarinen told the news agency STT that preliminary data has led officials to believe that sparks from a faulty carriage bearing were the cause of the fires. A forest fire warning had been issued for the North Savo region on Friday.

The grass fires started around noon near train tracks connecting the area of Sukeva with the city of Iisalmi, after the museum train travelled through the area.

Oikarainen said that one of the three fires was larger, while the other two were quite small. Rescue units spent two hours putting out the fires, which were located within 15 kilometres of each other. Units from the neighbouring municipalities of Sukeva and Vierumäki were called in to assist with the operation.

The museum train was pulled by a historic Finnish-made steam locomotive. The VR Hr1 class (original classification P1) is the largest passenger express steam locomotive ever built in Finland, with twenty-two built between the years 1937 and 1957.

The famous locomotive is often referred to by its nickname "Ukko-Pekka", a name the public gave to Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who served as President of Finland from 1931 to 1937.

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