The Rescue Board (Päästemet) has announced a period of fire hazard beginning on Saturday, across the whole of Estonia. This follows a recent bout of wildfires, a relatively warm March, and comes nearly two months earlier than the first fire warnings of a long period of alert, through summer 2018, started.
Since the beginning of March, over 130 forest and brush fires have occurred in Estonia, BNS reports, and has spiked in early may, with close to 60 of the recorded fires taking place in the first five days of April.
Tagne Tähe, safety supervision department head at the Rescue Board, said the public must exercise care in making bonfires or barbecues when in the natural environment.
"A neglected fire may very easily turn into an inferno that endangers both nature as well as people and their homes. In addition, landscape fires pose a lethal threat to animals living in low grass areas, like hedgehogs and birds who have started nesting," Ms Tähe added, noting that in any case, fires can only be lit in designated zones.
Even on private property such as a garden, safety precautions will apply, and fires may even be forbidden in some built up areas, or a list of proscribed items which may not be burnt can apply. This all depends on the local municipalities' rules, Ms Tähe said.
General, common sense precautions include avoiding lighting fires in windy conditions, situating a fire some distance from buildings, forest, or flammable materials, constantly supervising an open fire, and properly extinguishing a fire when its use is over, with water or sand, rather than letting it burn itself out.
In state forest (RMK) areas, only designated campfire sites, listed on the authority's website, should be used.
The announcement will give a sense of deja vu, since summer 2018 saw a long period of high alert on fire hazard, though it did not begin until the end of May.
Editor: Andrew Whyte