A wildfire which began in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Central Training Area (Keskpolügoon) has spread the adjacent areas, regional daily Virumaa teataja (VT) reports.
The unusually dry spring and early summer followed by the recent arrival of the hot weather has led to numerous brush fires around Estonia, principally in Lääne- and Ida-Viru counties, and also in Pärnu County.
The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) issued a fire hazard warning which came into effect Wednesday and which bans barbecues and other activities which could trigger a blaze – even cigarette smoking – on land owned by state forest management board the RMK.
In any case, the fire reported on by VT in Kuusalu Rural Municipality, had been smoldering away for around three days prior to the warning and, since it broke out in the central training area, had been battled by the EDF's own firefighting team.
However, as the fire spread beyond the training area as of Wednesday lunchtime, the civilian Rescue Board (Päästeamet) was also called in – a spokesperson for the board told VT the affected area at the time was around 3ha in area, while up to that point the civilian team, from Rakvere, Loksa and Tapa, had been unable to act, given the risk of live explosives and other hazards on the training ground itself.
Local residents had observed smoke rising from the training area vicinity for several days, but it was not until just before 6.20 a.m. Wednesday morning that a passing driver on the Tallinn-Narva highway notified the Rescue Board that heavily vegetated areas close to Valgejõe village, outside the training area, were visibly ablaze also.
VT reports that a total of firing exercises of medium (small arms) to high (artillery, anti-tank weapons etc.) noise level had been planned for the training area at the time when the fire started
The conditions in general are also of concern given Jaaniöö, a time when bonfires are traditionally lit, and the accompanying Võidupüha/Jaanipäev break, midsummer in other words, June 22-24.
Editor: Andrew Whyte