Forest fire in Latvia still burning a week on

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A fire in forest and peat marsh in Valdgale parish continues to cause concern July 25 a week after it started.

State Forest Service (VMD) official Andis Krēsliņš told LTV's Morning Panorama show that though there had been some rainfall on July 24 it had done very little to help dampen the site as the whole area had been bone-dry for a long period. 

Krēsliņš confirmed that according to current estimates, the area burned has exceeded 1,000 hectares, and it is likely that the fire originated from careless behavior. He cast doubt on suspicions raised that it had been an act of willful arson on the basis that "no normal person" could do such a thing.

However, police have started a criminal probe into the cause of the blaze which has been burning since July 17.

Firefighters have been on site ever since. A Lithuanian helicopter has also helped, with a second helicopter, from Belarus, expected to join the fight Wednesday.

The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) said Wednesday morning that high humidity and windless conditions overnight had helped prevent fresh combustion but with a very hot day expected and winds likely to pick up, it remained to be seen if flames would spring up afresh.

Authorities are advising the public to use extreme caution with flames and potential fire hazards with hot, dry weather expected to continue over Latvia for several more days.

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