Estonian rescue services aiding Latvian firefighters south of border

The State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia on Wednesday evening sent a request for assistance to the Estonian Rescue Board in their attempt to put out a forest fire currently not under control in an area of 40 ha in Mazsalaca County, close to Latvia's border with Estonia.

The Rescue Board is sending personnel from its Haapsalu, Rapla, Risti, and Kilingi-Nõmme centres, along with equipment, it said on Thursday.

The State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia sent a request for assistance to Estonia at 7:54 p.m. on 1 August. Latvian firefighters are currently working to get a forest fire under control. Due to the currently strong winds and the lasting high temperatures and lack of rain, the fire has been spreading quickly.

Estonia is interested in seeing the fire put out as well, as it is threatening the Sookuninga nature reserve just north of the border in Pärnu County.

Latvia asked for three all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and one tracked all-terrain carrier. The Rescue Board decided to respond and is sending the all-terrain carrier and staff from Haapsalu, one ATV along with two rescuers from Rapla, an ATV from its Risti station, and one ATV as well as three rescuers from the Kilingi-Nõmme station.

An operative duty officer from Pärnu County is involved as well to act as the communications officer of the Estonian team. Personnel as well as equipment left Estonia before the end of the day.

According to the Rescue Board's chief duty officer, Janar Karner, providing quick aid to neighbours is extremely important: "On one hand, colleagues and neighbours must be helped, but on the other, there is the great danger of the fire spreading to the Sookuninga nature reserve in Pärnu County, and the response is necessary to prevent or minimise damage to the nature reserve," Karner said.

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria), currently also standing in for Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE), said that the aid granted to Estonia's southern neighbour won't negatively affect the capacities of the Rescue Board fighting fires in Estonia.