2018 Sweden wildfires

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2018 Sweden wildfires
Scandinavia temperature anomaly 2018.jpg
Scandinavia temperature anomaly map, July 1–15, 2018 (NASA)
Total firesc. 50 — as of 23 July
Total area250 km2 (100 sq mi) — as of 23 July
Date(s)May – August 2018 (peak in July)

In the summer of 2018, a large number of wildfires (primarily forest fires) occurred throughout much of Sweden. According to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, they are the most serious in the country in modern history.[3] The summer was unusually warm and dry, significantly raising the risk of fire. Firefighters from multiple countries were involved in fighting the fires.[4] Many people were evacuated from their homes,[5] but there were no fatalities.[6]

Heatwave and cause of fire[edit]

Satellite picture of the wildfires near Ljusdal

Sweden experienced an unusually long heatwave and had only 13 mm (0.51 in) of rain from the beginning of May to late July.[1][7] May 2018 was the warmest May and July 2018 was the warmest July ever recorded in Sweden.[8][9] As of mid-July, temperatures in Scandinavia were more than 10 °C (18 °F) above normal.[10]

Several of the fires were started by people using disposable barbecues, though bans on these were in place due to the weather conditions.[3][11] Some were started by lightning strikes.[12]

Wildfires also occurred in the neighbouring countries Denmark, Finland and Norway, but no casualties due to wildfires were reported in Scandinavia.[6][13][14]


The first significant wildfires in Sweden were recorded in May,[15] and by 23 July there were more than fifty,[1][16] covering 250 km2 (100 sq mi).[2] The fires were distributed throughout much of Sweden, ranging from north of the Arctic Circle to the southernmost county of Scania.[3] The largest areas lost to fire are in Gävleborg and Jämtland, each 85 km2 (33 sq mi), followed by Dalarna at 25 km2 (10 sq mi) and Västernorrland at 5 km2 (2 sq mi).[17] Based on data from the last decade, the expected number of wildfires in July would be three.[18] It is highly unusual for areas of this size to be affected by wildfires (both individual fires and total size of all), but historically there have been larger, notably in 1888 where 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) burned.[19]

Most affected areas in 2018 have relatively low human population densities,[20] but it was still necessary to evacuate many people from several villages.[5][21] In areas not under risk of fire but affected by smoke thousands of people were asked to stay indoors and close their windows.[5]

In addition to the country's firefighters and civilian volunteers, Sweden's armed forces were involved, mostly providing manpower and equipment such as helicopters.[5] Locally the air force also used aerial bombings by JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to make firebreaks and draw oxygen from the wildfires.[22]

By June, several fires were out of control and Sweden requested help from neighbouring countries and via the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism. Sweden received help from Denmark (firefighters and equipment), Estonia (firefighters and equipment), France (soldiers, firefighters, water bombing aircraft), Finland (firefighters), Germany (firefighters, helicopters), Italy (water bombing aircraft), Lithuania (helicopter), Norway (firefighters and equipment, water bombing helicopters), Poland (firefighters and equipment), and Portugal (water bombing aircraft).[1][4][7][23]

In late July, Sweden received its first significant rain in months.[9][24] Combined with firefighting, this meant that fires generally were reduced, although new ones continued to appear.[4][24] This, along with the high risk of fire elsewhere in Europe, meant that firefighters from most countries had returned to their own countries by 30 July, although the Danish remained on active duty in Sweden into August.[25][26] Some water bombing aircraft returned to their own countries, but others remained in Sweden.[27]


In March, several wildfires occurred in the south of Sweden. According to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, the risk of fire was unusually high for the time of year.[28][29][30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "French soldiers land in Sweden to battle wildfire inferno". thelocal.se. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Barents Region is on fire". thebarentsobserver.com. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "What you need to know about Sweden's historic wildfire outbreak". The Local. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Så tog bränderna över den svenska sommaren". SVT Nyheter. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "EU nations help Sweden as wildfires rage above Arctic Circle". Washington Post. 20 July 2018. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Wildfires have ignited inside the Arctic Circle". Vox. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Sweden rushes firefighting aircraft to tackle fast-spreading wildfires". Deutsche Welle. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Extrema värmen i maj krossar rekorden" (in Swedish). expressen.se. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b "SMHI bekräftar: Rekordvarm juli i år" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  10. ^ Samenow, Jason (18 July 2018). "Record-breaking heat hits Norway, Finland and Sweden". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Grillar orsaken till flera bränder i helgen". SVT Nyheter. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Två skogsbränder härjar i Värmland – franska flyg hjälper till". SVT Nyheter. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  13. ^ Rory Smith; Judith Vonberg; Brandon Miller (18 July 2018). "Dozens of wildfires are raging across Sweden". CNN. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Subterranean Wildfire Rages in Denmark". thelocal.dk. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Flera skogsbränder runt om i Sverige" (in Swedish). SVT Nyheter. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  16. ^ "In pictures: Fighting the Swedish wildfires". BBC News. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  17. ^ "250 km2 skog har brunnit. Lidingös yta = 31 km2" (in Swedish). Lidingo Sidan. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Data shows Sweden's wildfire problem is unusual". Euronews. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Det här med "i modern tid"" (in Swedish). Upsala Nya Tidning. 7 September 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Mit Feuer gegen Feuer" (in German). Spiegel Online. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Flera byar evakuerade på grund av bränderna" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Flygvapnet släppte 270 kilo tung bomb över branden" (in Swedish). SVT Nyheter. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  23. ^ "The Swedish town on the frontline of the Arctic wildfires". The Guardian. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Danske brandfolk bliver i Sverige mens andre tager hjem" (in Danish). Berlingske. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Skovbrande har hærget Sverige i tre uger: Nyt hold danske frivillige på vej" (in Danish). DR News. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Europæiske brandfolk er ved at forlade Sverige: Hjælpen har givet resultater" (in Danish). Berlingske. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Så länge stannar de utländska brandflygplanen i Sverige". SVT Nyheter. 27 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  28. ^ Söderlund, Andreas (22 April 2019). "Flera skogsbränder i Sverige: "Det är öppna lågor"" (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  29. ^ "MSB om skogsbränderna: "Ser riktigt illa ut"". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Kraftig skogsbrand vattenbombas i Gislaved". DN.SE (in Swedish). 22 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  31. ^ Radio, Sveriges. "MSB: Stor risk för skogsbränder i hela landet - P4 Kalmar". sverigesradio.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 April 2019.

External links[edit]