EU Science Hub

Severe forest fire in Sweden

Aug 05 2014

The largest forest fire in Sweden's recent history is raging through the Sala and Surahammar municipalities in Västmanland County, Sweden.

Nearby villages have been evacuated, and the fire has been declared a national emergency. Emergency services are trying to control the flames that are reported to have already engulfed more 5,000 hectares of forest land.

The JRC’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) is closely monitoring the situation. On the request of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), it delivers daily EFFIS reports based on the latest satellite imagery available and meteorological weather forecasts.

The above sequence of imagery shows the evolution of the fire perimeter during 3 and 4 August as estimated using MODIS and Landsat 8 satellites.


From EFFIS maps, the burned area was estimated 3,300 ha at midday 4 August. According to a preliminary EFFIS estimation made for the morning of 5 August, the burned area has increased quite significantly and is currently well above this value. The latest hotspots detected from the satellite imagery indicate that the fire is quickly progressing towards the North West due to strong winds. Another flame front is progressing southward.

The fire is affecting mostly conifer forests (79% of the estimated burned area). Given the current heat wave and strong winds affecting the area, the fire danger level is classified as high, and is forecast to remain in the high ranges until 7 August, when conditions are likely to improve slightly.

On 3 August, Sweden activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to fight the forest fires, based on which Italy and France have sent fire-fighting aircraft to reinforce efforts to contain the fire.

In addition, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS), coordinated by the JRC, was activated on 4 August. The first post disaster map was produced on 5 August. A monitoring effort, in close collaboration with the ERCC and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, is ongoing and further forest fire delineation maps will be available in the coming days.