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Firefighters called to five-year record of 199 fires on Monday

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Prague, Aug 11 (CTK) – Czech firefighters were called to 199 fires on Monday, the highest number in five years, while the normal daily average is around 50 fires, Nicole Zaoralova, spokeswoman for the general directorate of the Fire Rescue Service, told CTK Tuesday.

The big number of fires is due to the hot and dry weather that beats all-time records, with temperatures climbing up to 37 decrees centigrade, while even higher levels are no exception.

This type of weather has continued for several weeks. Meteorologists say it might end at the weekend.

Such temperatures are unusual in this country, where the thermometer exceeds the 30-degree mark for only a few days in summer.

Zaoralova said the biggest number of fires are registered in the spring when people are tidying up their gardens after winter, burn old grass and biological waste.

“Such a dramatic rise in fires is not typical of summer,” she said.

The absolutely highest number of fires, 597, broke out in the country with a population of 10.5 million on April 21, 1996.

Zaoralova said fires in open nature prevail these days. They are often caused by technical defects of the machinery farmers use in the fields.

Another significant factor is human negligence.

“In forests, fires are often caused by cigarette butts,” Zaoralova said.

She said it is banned to make fires and stage fireworks in a majority of the 14 regions in the country.

“Firefighters may punish a breach of the ban with high fines,” Zaoralova said.

Firms and businesspeople can be fined with hundreds of thousands of crowns, individuals up to 25,000 crowns.

The warning by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute against a high danger of fires has been in force until further notice.

Zaoralova said firefighters battled 2621 fires in July, which was around 1000 more than last year. Since the beginning of August, they have been called to 1531 fires compared with 506 registered from August 1 to 10 last year.

This year, firefighters have tackled many very extensive fires. “The third emergency degree, where more than ten firefighters’ units participate in extinguishing the fire, was declared in 12 cases, and inter-regional assistance was demanded in battling two fires,” Zaoralova said.

She said two police helicopters and one military helicopter are on standby.

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