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What is meant by Denmark’s ’red’ wildfire hazard index?

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
What is meant by Denmark’s ’red’ wildfire hazard index?
Danish emergency services have urged caution using tools such as garden weed burners due to heightened risk of wildfire. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Wednesday will see most of Denmark moved to ‘red’ on the country’s fire hazard index (brandfareindeks), meaning that extreme caution is advised when lighting barbecues and using garden weed burners.

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Area marked red on the fire hazard index mean that wildfires can be “very easily” caused by embers or small flames, according to the brandfare.dk website, developed in collaboration between local authorities and emergency services.

The website’s homepage displays a map of Denmark on which a slider can be moved through the coming days. It shows the hazard index moving from mostly orange on Tuesday to red across the majority of the country on Wednesday.

Parts of western and southern Denmark are set at the dark red “extreme” risk, the highest possible level, on Wednesday.

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Large areas of the country will also be red on Thursday and Friday.

“On Wednesday, you can see that the fire hazard index will move right up to red, so you should be aware if you use weed burners, barbecues or tools that can make sparks in general, when in natural areas,” Danish Emergency Management Agency (Beredskabsstyrelsen, DEMA) prevention expert Mads Dalgaard told news wire Ritzau.

“Fire can spread rapidly,” he said.

The fire hazard index, which indicates the risk of wildfire, increases when conditions are hot and dry.

No bonfire bans are in place as of Tuesday, with the exception of a permanent ban which exists on the remote island of Anholt. That means it is currently permitted to light a barbecue or campfire or park a car in tall grass across the vast majority of the country.

But DEMA urged the public to take precautions to reduce the risk of a fire starting.

Hot weather in Denmark is related to the high-pressure front currently causing extreme temperatures in southern Europe as well as the UK. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal have all seen severe wildfires.

READ ALSO: How 2022 compares to Europe’s hottest summers

“You should preferably not have a barbecue when it’s very dry if you are close to fields or similar,” Dalgaard said.

“If you do, you should make sure you have water close by, keep a good distance and place the barbecue on a non-flammable surface,” he said.

Cigarette butts thrown into dry grass or leaves can also cause a fire to break out.

The speed at which a fire can spread depends on conditions including the dryness of the surroundings, what is burning, and the strength of the wind.

“But it can be lightning-fast,” Dalgaard said.

“And if an accident occurs and you can’t immediately do anything, call 112 and get help from fire services,” he said.

Despite the high level on the wildfire risk index, Denmark is not in danger of suffering the level of devastation caused in recent days by blazes in forests in southern European countries, the DEMA expert noted.

“We can’t compare ourselves with what is happening there. Those are completely different natural areas,” he said.

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