A wildfire alert phase is now in effect across roughly half of Iceland following weeks of dry weather and fires across the Southwest quadrant of the country. The region of Austur-Skaftafellssýsla in Southeast Iceland has been added to the alert phase, which is also in effect across Southwest and West Iceland, the Westfjords, the northwest region, and the Reykjavík capital area. An uncertainty phase is in effect on the Suðurnes peninsula.
All handling of open fire is banned in the areas where an alert phase in effect, where precipitation has been rare in recent weeks and not much is in the forecast. “It has probably never been more important to be especially careful with fire in areas with vegetation and to avoid the use of barbecues and tools that heat up with use,” a notice from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management states.
Homeowners are encouraged to review their fire preparedness, as “every second can make a difference.” Anyone who witnesses a wildfire should immediately call the emergency line 112. Witnesses can often put out fires in the early stages with the help of garden hoses or buckets of water.
The public (particularly owners of summer houses in the affected region) are encouraged to:
- Not light fires inside or outside (including fireplaces, grills, bonfires, fireworks, etc.)
- Not use disposable or ordinary barbecues
- Check exits by summer houses
- Review fire protection (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors) and make an escape plan
- Not use tools that become very hot or cause sparks
- Remove flammable material near buildings (check the location of gas containers)
- Wet the vegetation around buildings where it is dry