Sweden is battling its most serious wildfire situation of modern times. Here's what you need to know
The heat came early
Not only is it particularly warm in Sweden at the moment, the heat also arrived early. While May can often be an up and down month where even the odd spell of snow isn't unthinkable as far south as Stockholm, this year was a stark contrast. Sweden experienced its hottest May on record, and several cities saw their hottest individual May days since records began 150 years ago.
READ ALSO: Sweden endures hottest May on record
June provided some brief respite, but the heat returned as the month rolled into July, with many parts of the country registering temperatures of 30C or above for several days in succession, and some expected to do so for as many as five days in a row.
M almÃ¶ in May. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The rain stayed away
It's not only warm, many parts of Sweden have also been exceptionally dry this summer. That created an "extreme risk" for forest fire outbreaks as early as May, and the lack of rain is now so bad that the government is even considering state assistance for farmers struggling with the conditions.
Dry ground in Ãsterhaninge. Photo: Bilhelm Stokstad/TT
Combine dry terrain with high temperatures and a lack of frequent rain, and the conditions are ripe for forest fires to spread, but the human factor shouldn't be overlooked either.
Many of the fires are thought to have been started by people using disposable barbecues, despite a ban on lighting them and any other kind of open fire in the majority of municipalities at the moment.
File photo of a disposable barbecue. Photo: Terje Pedersen/NTB scanpix
The worst affected regions
Though there have been wildfires across the length and breadth of the country this summer, the three worst affected regions are in central Sweden â" GÃ¤vleborg, JÃ¤mtland and Dalarna.
In Ãlvdalen, Dalarna, efforts to extinguish a major forest fire moving through a target-practice area have been hindered by the presence of undetonated shells. In Ljusdal, GÃ¤vleborg, some residents have had to evacuate the area, as have those living in parts of HÃ¤rjedalen, JÃ¤mtland.
In general the situation is less delicate further south, but national forecaster SMHI warns there is still a risk for forest fires in virtually every municipality. The map below shows where fires burned as of Monday.
What's bei ng done
Firefighters are working tirelessly to try to contain and extinguish the fires, with the Armed Forces assisting in some instances, but weather conditions haven't made life easy for them, and personnel numbers are stretched.In PÃ¥lgÃ¥rd, JÃ¤mtland, volunteers are being asked to assist with extinguishing work for the next few days, with almost 100 signing up to help after the local municipality put out the request on Tuesday.
Assistance has also come from other countries. Norway sent six helicopters to help extinguish blazes from above, and firefighting planes have also been called in from Italy to help for an eight day period.
READ ALSO: Italian water bombers to help fight wildfires in Sweden
Firefighters in Gothenburg. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT