Horni Plana, South Bohemia, July 1 (CTK) – Some 600 firefighters, police and volunteers from three countries are taking part in a three-day exercise on the borders of the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany to extinguish large-scale forest fires.

The firefighters are getting ready for the case a fire would spread across the Sumava Mountains (Bohemian Forest) in all the three countries.

This is the first exercise of this type.

The firefighters are primarily intervening in Austria, near the ski resort Hochficht, situated roughly 20 kilometres from the Czech small town of Horni Plana.

“The Sumava is quite specific. There is the first zone of its national park with wildlife protection. There is a great deal of dry wood,” head of the South Bohemia firefighting unit Lubomir Bures told journalists.

“If a large fire started in the Sumava, this would pose a major problem at present,” he added.

Due to the summer drought, the fire would easily spread and reach all the three countries, Bures said.

“This preparation pursues the objective of primarily testing coordination in a similar intervention,” he added.

“We use not only different languages, but we also have different radio connections with different frequencies,” Bures said.

The exercise also trained the gaining of water for the extinguishment of a fire in poorly accessible Sumava sites.

This is why the firefighters were extinguishing a simulated fire with the help of helicopters, while water was also transported in tanks there.

“We are using the Lipno water reservoir as the biggest water body which is situated in the area. We also rely on the water from Hochficht, stored by ski resort operators in their tanks for snowmaking of ski slopes,” spokeswoman for the local firefighters Vendula Mateju said.

Bures said no disastrous fire had hit the Sumava recently. In the past, this happened once in the Austrian side. “However, at that time our Austrian counterparts did not invite us and put up the fire they themselves,” he added.