The Estonian Rescue Board (Päästeamet) received a total of 72 calls for assitance on Midsummer's Eve, 46 of which were connected to bonfires. In most cases however, bonfires had been constructed safely and it was a relatively calm night for the emergency services.
Both professional and volunteer rescue workers were on duty in Estonia during Midsummer's Eve. They were patrolling around 100 bonfires throughout the country to ensure safety.
"The rescuer workers did identify a number of bonfires and barbecues, which had been made in the forest or on RMK (State Forest Management Center) land, despite the ban," said Estonian Rescue Board chief Erkki Põld. These were extinguished, after discussions to clarify the situation with those involved.
There were no major landscape fires. In two instances, fires did burn the surrounding vegetation, however, they were quickly brought under control and no major damage was caused.
"Throughout the whole of Midsummer there have been a lot of good people who actively intervened, and thanks to whom any major threats to property and human lives were prevented. People were aware of the dangers and the risk of fire," said Põld.
There is still a very high risk of forest and landscape fires throughout much of Estonia. "If the ground around you is crunching from drought and if there is also wind, then you should refrain from building a bonfire. Safety starts with everyone, and this is the only way to have a happy holiday without taking unnecessary risks," Põld said.
Since June 14, it has been forbidden to make fires, have barbecues, and smoke in Estonia's public forested or peat-soil areas due to the very dry ground and lack of rain.
Open fires are also banned in RMK forest areas. Bonfires are permitted in backyards, though extreme caution is advised.
Editor: Michael Cole