Extreme fire warnings over, barbecuing permitted again

The Rescue Board of Estonia (Päästeamet) has announced the end of the major fire risk period across the whole of Estonia.

This year's unusually hot and dry summer had seen fire danger warnings being issued as early as late May, with risks increasing through June and culminating in an 'extreme' fire danger warning towards the end of July, with periods of high windspeeds contributing to the risk.

However, thanks to plenty of rainfall over the last few days, the period of high risk is now over, the Rescue Board says.

The extreme fire hazard status had meant that barbecues, campfires and all kinds of open flame were prohibited in forest and wilderness areas, including at designated campsites such as those operated by the Estonian state forest board (RMK). Even smoking was forbidden in these zones, and drivers were urged not to use motor vehicles in forest environments and to park on non-flammable surfaces.

With the period now over, most of these activities are now permitted, including barbecuing in the open and making campfires.

Precautions still needed

Nonetheless the important fire safety requirements when it comes to barbecues, fires etc., even in home gardens, still apply, according to the Rescue Board.

The Rescue Board has also reminded the public that the burning of refuse and other waste is forbidden at all times of the year.

More information (in Estonian) concerning fire safety is available on the Rescue Board's website here.

The summer had seen wildfires covering large areas of land, most notably at Vikipalu in Harju County, where a fire covering some 200 acres took 1,000 people 12 days to extinguish fully, a bog fire in Tori in Pärnu County, and a large fire close to the resort town of Narva-Jõesuu, where firefighters needed to run hoses from the Narva River over several kilometres, to combat the blaze.

Dozens of far smaller fires also required the emergency services' attention and the cost of fighting wildfires had already exceeded €1 million before Jaanipäev (24 June).

Nonetheless the incidence of fires was somewhat less than in some previous summers, and no fatalities were recorded as having occurred due to this summer's wildfires, unlike in other parts of Europe.