Fire near Estonian border still being fought

Firefighters are still at work monitoring or combating three simultaneous bog blazes on Latvian territory; of these, the fire at Rāmata parish near the border with Estonia is still being fought actively, according to State Forestry Service representative Zigmunds Jaunķiķis.

He told Latvian Radio August 3 that a smaller fire, which erupted earlier in Sala Municipality, central Latvia, has been closed off, with an area of 35.1 hectares of bog and forest having burned out.

Meanwhile the massive fire near the Estonian border at Rāmata parish is still burning with an open flame.

"Currently it's only the bog burning there. [The fire] has made it into less than a hectare of forest, which we plan to prevent from spreading further," said Jaunķiķis.

On August 2 it was estimated the fire was burning in an area of 220 hectares, with water shortages and communication troubles caused by poor cellphone reception in the area interfering with firefighting activities. 

The fire started July 31 but firefighting operations started only on August 1.

Jaunķiķis said that the fire by the border has firefighters, as well as forestry workers and National Guard troops at the location . Estonian and Lithuanian firefighters are active at the scene as well.

"In the morning [of August 3] there was some rain there -- a little, but at least some. Now the situation looks hopeful, if the wind doesn't change direction.

"Colleagues at the location said that the bedding is wobbly. The fire is spreading on the surface, but you can't even stand there," said State Forestry Service rep Selva Šulce. 

The forest and bog fire which started in late July in Valdgale, western Latvia, is still smoldering on, said Jaunķiķis. Firefighters are guarding the perimeter and preventing fires that may be kindled by the wind blowing on smoldering peat. It is expected that only autumn rain will fully extinguish the Valdgale fire.

The State Forestry Service invites berry and mushroom pickers to leave their matches at home. "Take care of the cigarette butts as well. Every tiny spark can start a fire," said Jaunķiķis. 

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