Forest fire ravages Bohemian Switzerland National Park

Efforts to contain and put out a forest fire in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park may take days, the head of the Czech National Fire Brigade, Vladimír Vlček said on Tuesday. He said over 400 firefighters from 84 units are now battling the massive fire which started in hard-to-access terrain on Sunday morning and was whipped up by a strong wind. Over the past three days it has ravaged close to 1,000 hectares of forestland in the national park and spread to Germany.

Three German units are helping to fight the fire and the Czech authorities have asked for international assistence in the form of planes and helicopters to help douse the blaze. Slovakia, Poland and Italy have all responded positively to the request.

Hundreds of people have now been evacuated from the affected area. The village of Mezna was partly  destroyed by the fire during the night hours but all the inhabitants had been evacuated and no one has so far been reported injured. On Tuesday night firefighters evacuated hundreds of people from the Vysoká Lípa municipality.

People have been asked to stay well away from the affected area and a large part of the park has been closed off to visitors. The prime minister, interior minister and environment minister are attending crisis meetings at the site.