The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

The Wind Ignites Fires in the Upper Valais Forest

In the forest fire area above Bitsch VS, the wind has caused the fire to flare up again on Wednesday, making the situation still out of control. Firefighters are unable to approach the forest edge to fight the fire at its root, so the firefighting is done by helicopter. Six helicopters were in use on Wednesday and some of them will fly during the night. Around 20 of the 80 firefighters will also be present during the night. About 50 people are still waiting to return to their homes or holiday homes. On Monday night, 200 people were evacuated from the towns of Riederalp and Bitsch, and 150 of them have been able to return home. Residents of the village of Oberried and two hamlets of the municipality of Bitsch remain evacuated. The Wallis Security Director, Frédéric Favre, issued a general ban on open fires on Wednesday due to the lack of rainfall since mid-May, high temperatures and a strong wind. This increases the risk of forest fires throughout the canton. Barbecuing is still allowed in private areas, as long as the grill is placed on a non-flammable surface and at a safe distance from flammable vegetation and forest areas. A relaxation of the situation is only expected after an intense period of rain of at least three days with more than 30 millimeters of rain per square meter. In addition to the canton of Wallis, a high risk of forest fire also applies in certain regions of the canton of Graubünden, such as the Engadin. In several other regions of Switzerland, the risk of forest fire is considerable and in many places it is moderate.

©Keystone/SDA

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