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Finland is on fire – (a day too late)

August 16, 2006
Due to some very bizarre technical problems, this entry is a day late… Pretend it is yesterday!
Last time I wrote about the Emergency Services College up in Kuopio. They deal in all things fire, so it was a rather timely entry. I’ll continue on the theme of fire…
In the (nearly) eight years that I have lived in Finland, never have I experienced the fall out of fire as I have this summer. All in all it has been an extremely unusual summer – the driest in 100 years weather experts say. With that we have not been immune to the effects of forest fires – in Russia of all places.
For the last couple weeks (and a few days in the spring), us poor saps in southern Finland have had to endure a daily assault of acrid forest fire smoke blowing in from the east. The Finns who have suffered the most are the ones in the eastern border communities, but we have also had it here in the capital area. Yesterday (Monday) it was reported that smoke from Russian forest fires blew as far as western central Finland (Pohjanmaa).
While no rain in the last several weeks has exacerbated the situation, the famous red tape of the Russian authorities has also come into play. On August 4, Helsingin Sanomat International reported that the Russian Security Police (FSB) was in the process of implementing an expanded frontier zone on its border with Finland. (This sounds like a return to the Soviet era to me!) In many areas the border zone in Russia is some 10km or more. This alone has caused headaches to firefighters who have been prohibited from entering border areas where forest fires are burning unchecked.
Russian authorities have insisted that the situation is under control, but it sure doesn’t look like that when you look out the window!…
Here’s some background on the issue from HS International (have a look at the pictures in the bottom two articles):

Here’s hoping for a shift in the wind and a whole lot of rain! (Which happened yesterday afternoon – thank goodness for fresh air!)

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