Rescue Board wants additional €500,000 to cover summer fire expenses

The Rescue Board will ask for an extra €500,000 from the government to covering expenses related to fighting wildfires in the summer this year. Keeping the fires from spreading took so much effort that at times the rescue services were stretched so thin that they couldn't have carried out their usual tasks, the board's director-general said on Tuesday.

Director-General of the Rescue Board Kuno Tammearu told journalists that they are planning to ask for money out of the government's reserve this year to make up for its massive expenses in this year's wildfire season.

"This summer was very intense for the rescuers," Tammearu said. "It was a beautiful summer for holidaymakers, but for us it was very difficult."

He stressed that this year's summer season had brought 30% more fires than the average of the previous few years. More than 430 hectares of forest and land burned, twice the surface area of the three last seasons combined.

Rescue Board's resources spread too thin this summer

Tammearu also said that there were times this year when the board's resources had been spread so thin that they lost the capacity to respond to emergencies beside the forest fires.

For example, an incident in Ida-Viru County occurred when the closest rescuers were working some 70 km away. They still responded, and the situation was brought under control, but there had been seven occasions where they almost didn't make it, Tammearu said.

"We were lucky that no one was killed, but we can't rely on good luck in the future," he commented.