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Strong winds threaten to restart major wildfire in North Savo

Peat does not easily absorb water, which increases the risk that hot spots could continue to burn below the surface.

Suonenjoki turvepalo
The Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued wind warnings for many land and sea areas on Tuesday. Image: Marianne Mattila / Yle

A North Savo firefighter who helped battled an exceptionally large brush fire at the Suoneva peat production area over the weekend said the blaze was one of the largest in the region's history.

The fire was sparked on Saturday and spread to an area of about 85 hectares along the Suonenjoki River, and post-extinguishing efforts continued on Monday.

"Yes this fire is in the top five. This has been a big fire," said Harri Paunonen from the North Savo Rescue Department on Monday afternoon.

Most of the extinguishing effort had been carried out by Monday. However, anticipated hard winds could respark the blaze, Paunonen said.

"We are trying to put out the fire as well as we can, because the hard winds could escalate the blaze. Hard winds bring oxygen, so the fire may be in danger of re-igniting," he explained.

The peat production area could smoulder for an entire week after the blaze is extinguished, as peat does not easily absorb water, resulting in the risk that hot spots could continue to burn below the surface.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued wind warnings for many land and sea areas on Tuesday.

The post-extinguishing work was mainly being carried out on Monday by about a dozen staff members and contractors from Neova, the firm that runs the peat production area. They were aided by three firefighters from the North Savo Rescue Department.

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