World Update

How volunteers are helping to fight Sweden’s wildfires

Alongside the professionals doing their utmost to bring the blazes under control, across the country many ordinary citizens have joined the efforts. Many are giving up their vacation time to do so, since a large number of Swedes take extended holiday in July.

In the municipality of Ragunda alone, more than 100 people have been involved in the firefighting efforts.

"There are at least 100 people helping every day to go and see what fires are left that need to be put out and then relating this information back to the firefighters," Karina Landin, spokesperson for the municipality, told The Local on Thursday afternoon.

"There are also other volunteers helping with providing food and such things," she added. "We couldn't be doing this without them."

"Today I had the chance to help at the large forest fire in Ragunda. An unreal experience in many ways," one volunteer wrote on Facebook. "I and other volunteers helped to soak the edges of the fire so that it wouldn't spread further. I have huge respect for the emergency services — I was there for five hours helping, but I'm home now and they're still there."

READ MORE: Sweden is battling a historic wildfire outbreak. Here's what you need to know

Volunteers have donated refreshments to exhausted firefighters. Photo: Mats Andersson / TT

Ljusdal municipality, which is also severely affected and where some local residents have been evacuated, had also received over 100 offers of help. Some of these were on behalf of groups or entire families.

Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has appealed to the Red Cross for help with organizing the volunteer efforts.

"We have extensive experience in organizing voluntary efforts and are now scaling up our work immediately," Martin Ärnlöv, Secretary General of the Swedish Red Cross, said in a statement.

On Thursday, he called for anyone interested and able to help to get in contact with the organization, and said volunteers were needed to help with "assistance in evacuation, distributing supplies and spreading information about the ongoing evacuation efforts".

Thousands of keen volunteers from across the country have already registered their interest, with spontaneous Facebook groups set up to match evacuees with locals able to offer shelter or donate food, clothes and other items.

Volunteer Liselotte Johansson is pictured preparing food for firefighters. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

One Facebook group for volunteers in Ljusdal gained over 4,000 members after it was set up by 28-year-old Elias Mattsson, who knew some of the firefighters involved in fighting similar wildfires in 2014.

He told Aftonbladet that he remembered his friends hadn't had enough food and water while battling the blazes, and so he has been spending his planned vacation time organizing the delivery of donations to the scene of the fires. Locals have donated food, money, and even transportation, with several supermarkets and other businesses also contributing refreshments to the firefighters.

At a school in Härjedalen meanwhile, staff prepared warm food to deliver to firefighters, with several local residents donating supplies.

"We have had calls from all of Sweden, today there were calls from Skåne, Stockholm and Örebro," Philip Manasidis, who is working in the volunteer resource group in Härjedalen, told the TT newswire.

"They are preparing food, others turn up and deliver the food. [They aren't working] in the actual fire area, that's too dangerous. But they can drive on normal roads."

Even when the fires are brought under control, Manasidis said help may still be needed, including with transport and information.

Emergency services have even received offers of help fighting the flames, although in most areas they aren't able to bring civilians into the areas where the fires are actually burning.

"Many people have called and asked how they can help," Lars Kinnunen, who is coordinating the firefighting efforts in Nordmaling, told The Local. "But for now Ive had to just say thank you but it is too dangerous to bring in volunteers to help at the moment. For the time being its just the firefighters tackling the wildfires."

Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin took to Twitter to share her thanks to all those helping tame the fires.

"A big thank you to all the heroes, professional and volunteers who are fighting to extinguish the wildfires in this heat. Your efforts are invaluable," wrote Lövin, who is also Sweden's climate minister.

How can I help?

If you want to get involved, here are the numbers and contact details.

Red Cross (nationwide): Fill out this form

Ljusdal: Call 076-767 98 19 or email [email protected]

Härjedalen: Call 070-361 86 34 or email [email protected]

Bräcke: Call 0693- 161 43 or email [email protected]

Ragunda: email [email protected]

In the meantime, regional authorities have reminded residents to respect the ban on open fires (including barbecues), stay away from the areas affected by fires to allow emergency services to do their work, and avoid flying drones in the area, which could interfere with firefighting helicopters and water-bombers.

READ ALSO: More areas evacuated in Sweden due to wildfires

With additional reporting by Annabelle Leith

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World Update

How volunteers are helping to fight Sweden’s wildfires

Alongside the professionals doing their utmost to bring the blazes under control, across the country many ordinary citizens have joined the efforts. Many are giving up their vacation time to do so, since a large number of Swedes take extended holiday in July.

In the municipality of Ragunda alone, more than 100 people have been involved in the firefighting efforts.

"There are at least 100 people helping every day to go and see what fires are left that need to be put out and then relating this information back to the firefighters," Karina Landin, spokesperson for the municipality, told The Local on Thursday afternoon.

"There are also other volunteers helping with providing food and such things," she added. "We couldn't be doing this without them."

"Today I had the chance to help at the large forest fire in Ragunda. An unreal experience in many ways," one volunteer wrote on Facebook. "I and other volunteers helped to soak the edges of the fire so that it wouldn't spread further. I have huge respect for the emergency services — I was there for five hours helping, but I'm home now and they're still there."

READ MORE: Sweden is battling a historic wildfire outbreak. Here's what you need to know

Volunteers have donated refreshments to exhausted firefighters. Photo: Mats Andersson / TT

Ljusdal municipality, which is also severely affected and where some local residents have been evacuated, had also received over 100 offers of help. Some of these were on behalf of groups or entire families.

Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has appealed to the Red Cross for help with organizing the volunteer efforts.

"We have extensive experience in organizing voluntary efforts and are now scaling up our work immediately," Martin Ärnlöv, Secretary General of the Swedish Red Cross, said in a statement.

On Thursday, he called for anyone interested and able to help to get in contact with the organization, and said volunteers were needed to help with "assistance in evacuation, distributing supplies and spreading information about the ongoing evacuation efforts".

Thousands of keen volunteers from across the country have already registered their interest, with spontaneous Facebook groups set up to match evacuees with locals able to offer shelter or donate food, clothes and other items.

Volunteer Liselotte Johansson is pictured preparing food for firefighters. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

One Facebook group for volunteers in Ljusdal gained over 4,000 members after it was set up by 28-year-old Elias Mattsson, who knew some of the firefighters involved in fighting similar wildfires in 2014.

He told Aftonbladet that he remembered his friends hadn't had enough food and water while battling the blazes, and so he has been spending his planned vacation time organizing the delivery of donations to the scene of the fires. Locals have donated food, money, and even transportation, with several supermarkets and other businesses also contributing refreshments to the firefighters.

At a school in Härjedalen meanwhile, staff prepared warm food to deliver to firefighters, with several local residents donating supplies.

"We have had calls from all of Sweden, today there were calls from Skåne, Stockholm and Örebro," Philip Manasidis, who is working in the volunteer resource group in Härjedalen, told the TT newswire.

"They are preparing food, others turn up and deliver the food. [They aren't working] in the actual fire area, that's too dangerous. But they can drive on normal roads."

Even when the fires are brought under control, Manasidis said help may still be needed, including with transport and information.

Emergency services have even received offers of help fighting the flames, although in most areas they aren't able to bring civilians into the areas where the fires are actually burning.

"Many people have called and asked how they can help," Lars Kinnunen, who is coordinating the firefighting efforts in Nordmaling, told The Local. "But for now Ive had to just say thank you but it is too dangerous to bring in volunteers to help at the moment. For the time being its just the firefighters tackling the wildfires."

Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin took to Twitter to share her thanks to all those helping tame the fires.

"A big thank you to all the heroes, professional and volunteers who are fighting to extinguish the wildfires in this heat. Your efforts are invaluable," wrote Lövin, who is also Sweden's climate minister.

How can I help?

If you want to get involved, here are the numbers and contact details.

Red Cross (nationwide): Fill out this form

Ljusdal: Call 076-767 98 19 or email [email protected]

Härjedalen: Call 070-361 86 34 or email [email protected]

Bräcke: Call 0693- 161 43 or email [email protected]

Ragunda: email [email protected]

In the meantime, regional authorities have reminded residents to respect the ban on open fires (including barbecues), stay away from the areas affected by fires to allow emergency services to do their work, and avoid flying drones in the area, which could interfere with firefighting helicopters and water-bombers.

READ ALSO: More areas evacuated in Sweden due to wildfires

With additional reporting by Annabelle Leith

Related Articles

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