Sweden Says $87 Million of Wood May Have Burned in Forest Fire

Sweden estimates that wood valued at as much as 600 million kronor ($87 million) was destroyed in the country’s largest forest fire in modern times as fire-fighters managed to contain the spread of the blaze.

The Swedish Forest Agency estimates that the affected area contains some 2.37 million cubic meters of wood, valued at 300 million kronor to 600 million kronor, Camilla Kastner, a spokeswoman for the agency, said by text message.

The blaze, near Sala about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of the capital Stockholm, has been raging since July 31. The main forest owners in the area -- Sveaskog AB, Bergvik Skog and AB Karl Hedin -- have said that at least 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of their forests have burned. The area affected by the blaze covers about 15,000 hectares, with smoke from the fire being smelled across Stockholm today.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters at a press conference in Stockholm that he would visit the site today and promised an investigation into how the blaze has been handled amid mounting criticism about an alleged lack of resources. Sweden had to request help from the European Union, with Italy and France both sending water-bombing aircraft.

“There are a lot of people that are angry, critical and wonder why not everything has worked as they had envisioned and we will listen to that and show respect for and try to also learn more about what actually has happened,” he said. “This is of course an exceptional fire that we’re talking about, the biggest forest fire in modern times.”

The government will review how the public has been informed, and look at the water aircraft capacity given the changing weather patterns in Sweden, he said.

Finance Minister Anders Borg said at the same event that the government will now evaluate whether it will pay for some of the reconstruction needed at the site.

Emergency services said that they have managed to contain the fire within its boundaries. Some 120 to 140 people will fight fires today, with another 100 military personnel working with logistics and support and some 30 to 40 people also helping, according to the Vaestmanland County Administrative Board. Helicopters and aircraft will continue to water bomb the area, it said.

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