Forest fires were rampant this year in Latvia

The forest fire hazard period, which has been in effect in Latvia since May 1, will end over the weekend. 643 forest fires have been registered and extinguished this year, with 636 hectares (ha) of forest land burned out, which is much higher than in the previous three years, the State Forest Service reported on September 21.

Out of the total area affected by the fire, 114 ha were new stands, and 368 ha were special areas of conservation.

The largest number of forest fires, as in previous years, was registered in the supervised area of the Riga Regional Forest administration. 290 wildfires have been extinguished there, almost half the total number of wildfires in the state. 495 ha of forest land burned in them.

“The consistently most common cause of wildfires is people's inattentive handling of fire, which accounts for more than 80% of the total number of wildfires,” said Zigmunds Jaunķiķis, Deputy Head of Forest and Environmental Protection Division of the State Forest Service.

Similarly, some forest fires are a result of arson – 47 this year, of which 39 in the South Latgale Forest area.

Meanwhile, 17 times wildfires broke out as a result of lightning strikes.

This year has also exceeded the annual amount of burnt forest area recorded in the last three years. in 2022 a total of 391 forest fires in the area of 221 ha were extinguished, in 2021 it was 466 forest fires and 505 ha, and 581 forest fires and 528 ha in 2020. 

The beginning and end of the fire hazard period shall be determined annually by the State Forest Service, taking into account the weather conditions. As rainier and cooler weather sets in, the chance of fire breaking out and spreading into the forest also decreases.

There are a number of restrictions in place during the fire-hazard period, such as motor vehicles not being allowed to drive on the forest and swamp off roads. However, the public should be careful all year round. It is prohibited to leave the fire unattended, leave when it is not completely extinguished, as well as perform any other activity that may cause a fire, Jaunķiķis warned.

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