Forest fire in Czechoslovak Switzerland
A forest fire in Czech Switzerland broke out on Sunday, July 24, 2022 (during a big heat wave) in the Czech Switzerland National Park near Hřensk. The fire affected more than 1,600 hectares of the park area, eight helicopters, five airplanes and a total of about 700 people extinguished it in the largest deployment. On Monday, July 25, it spread to the German side to the area of Saxon Switzerland. It is the largest forest fire in the modern history of the Czech Republic and Saxony.
Situation in Czech Switzerland
Forest fires in this area have historically been quite frequent due to the fact that the local sandstone bedrock is very drying. However, the specific cause of the fire could only be speculated in the first week, as the fire's sources were still inaccessible.
A report of a "strong column of smoke rising from the forest" was received by the České Švýcarsko National Park Administration from the Saxon nature guard on Sunday, July 24, at seven o'clock in the morning. The NPČS administration immediately asked the Volunteer Fire Brigade of the Hřensko municipality to verify the information and to find the place where the smoke is rising from. SDH members subsequently confirmed the fire in the area of Malinový dol. About 83 firefighting units with 410 people, including firefighters from Germany, four helicopters and two airplanes are responding to the fire. As stated by Lukáš Marvan, the spokesman of the regional firefighters, the German units had to return shortly because the fire spread to Saxon Switzerland. Tuesday, July 26, 2022: On the night of Monday to Tuesday, the fire engulfed several houses in the village of Mezná. On Tuesday evening, according to the general director of the HZS CR, 450 firefighters were on the scene, 250 of which were volunteers. The extent of the forest affected by the fire was estimated at 1,000 hectares, and the smell of smoke from the forest fire was noticed due to the strong wind as far away as Vysočina, Orlickousteck, Svitavy, Liberecko and Dresden. Wednesday, July 27, 2022: The settlement of Mezní Louka and the village of Janov were also partially evacuated. In addition to several roads leading to the evacuated settlements, the Hřensko border crossing was also closed. Seven helicopters and several planes fought the fire, the Civil Aviation Authority declared a no-fly zone over the national park until Sunday midnight, which does not apply to intervening planes and helicopters. Shipping on the Elbe between Dolní Žleb and Hřensk was closed due to the possibility of pumping water for firefighting. Thursday, July 28, 2022: On Thursday, two Italian aircraft of the type Canadair CL-415 with large-capacity 6,000-liter tanks participated in extinguishing the fire for one day; water was collected from Lake Milada near Ústí nad Labem. Friday, July 29, 2022: Both Italian firefighting planes had to return to Italy for the fire on the Apennine Peninsula. New air support has been arranged from Sweden, with two Air Tractor AT-802s, each capable of pumping 3,000 liters of water in flight.Saturday 30 July 2022: The first injuries to responding firefighters are reported: one firefighter was seriously injured after falling from the rock and transported by helicopter to the hospital in Ústí nad Labem, two other firefighters attacked by wild wasps and bees were taken to the hospital in Děčín. A total of eight injured firefighters were reported in the early evening.
The fire was extinguished in the Czech territory around noon on August 12, 2022, when the firefighters did not notice any unextinguished fires for the first time. Still, about 40 of them remained on the spot in case of new outbreaks.
Situation in Saxon Switzerland
On Monday, July 25, the second day after the fire broke out, the fire crossed the state border from the Czech Switzerland National Park to the Zadní Saxon Switzerland region