Firefighters Fought Wildfires Near Eruption Site Until 2 AM

iceland volcano 2023

Firefighters worked until 2 AM extinguishing wildfires that have arisen as a result of the eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula. A fire marshall with the Grindavík Fire Brigade told RÚV that there was plenty of work to be done today.

Managed to extinguish small fires near the trail

Firefighters worked to extinguish wildfires in the vicinity of the eruption site at Litli-Hrútur until 2 AM. Daníel Karlsson, Duty Officer with the Grindavík Fire Brigade, told Mbl.is this morning that the firefighting had gone well: “It went well. We managed to put out the smaller fire near the trail to the eruption site.”

According to Daníel, preparations for the day’s firefighting began at 8 AM.

Thick blue smoke covers the hiking trail

Einar Sveinn Jónsson, Fire Marshall with the Grindavík Brigade, is among those who have fought the wildfires near the eruption site. Einar told RÚV this morning that the outlook had often been rosier and that there was a significant amount of smoke.

“Naturally, it’s quite windy, so the smoke covers the trail. Thick, blue smoke from the wildfires blow through the final 2-3 kilometres of the trail, which makes it completely impossible to hike the trail. It is barely passable by car, due to pollution; you can hardly see.”

Einar told RÚV that the firefighting last night and into the early hours of today went well: “But there’s quite a bit of work left. Today’s task will probably be challenging, considering the amount of pollution. But it hasn’t gotten so bad that we have to stop.”

House Destroyed in Fire Caused by Electric Scooter

A house in eastern Reykjavík was completed destroyed in a fire caused by an electric scooter that was being charged, RÚV reports. The police investigation into the fire concluded that the scooter was indeed the cause of the fire, which burned down the two-storey, wooden house. No one was injured in the incident.

It took firefighting crews six hours to tame the flames at the scene on Tuesday, and they told Vísir that an explosion had occurred within the house. Crews removed the roof of the structure in order to put out the fire more easily. This is not the first time that a plugged-in scooter has started a fire in Iceland: police and firefighters have previously warned of the dangers of charging electric scooters at home.

Man Dies in Ship Fire

fatal accident Iceland

A 49-year-old man died in a fire on a ship in Njarðvík harbour, in Southwest Iceland, last night. Vísir reports that he was a Polish national and is survived by a wife and teenage son living in Poland. Seven people were on board the ship last night when the fire broke out, as it was scheduled to head out to sea this morning.

Firefighters were called out to the scene at 2:10 AM this morning. Four people on the boat escaped of their own accord and were unharmed. Two were taken to Suðurnes Health Centre, where one is in an induced coma. Another person sustained burns on their back in the fire.

The man who died on board was the ship’s cook, and had worked on the ship, called the Grímsnes GK-555, for around a decade. “He has lived in Iceland for nearly two decades, probably. He moved home to Poland with his family when his wife became ill, but has still worked here despite that, except for one year during Covid. He’s probably been with me for ten years,” stated Sigvaldi Hólmgrímsson, the ship’s captain.

Sigvaldi says he doesn’t know how the fire broke out and has yet to speak with police or firefighters. “I’ve heard different stories from all of my men. When something like this happens, you’re not thinking of anything other than getting yourself out. There was so much fire onboard that to my understanding they could barely see.”

This is the second time the Grímsnes GK-555 makes headlines this month. A crew member on the ship smuggled a 15-year-old girl on board in early April. The crew member was later fired.

Two Hospitalised After Gas-Station Explosion in Reykjavík

Gas station

Capital region firefighters were dispatched following an explosion at an Olís gas station in Reykjavík shortly before 2:30 PM today. Two individuals were transported to the emergency room.

Fire department received numerous calls

At just before 2.30 PM today, the capital region fire brigade was dispatched after receiving numerous calls concerning an explosion at the Olís gas station in Álfheimar, Reykjavík.

Duty officer Sveinbjörn Berentsson told Vísir that it was clear that “considerable force” had been involved in the explosion, given the number of phone calls. The explosion occurred at a methane pump, and firefighters began by blocking the flow of gas from the pump, as well as attending to two people injured in the explosions. They were taken to the emergency room.

Sveinbjörn was unable to comment on the extent of their injuries. Two nearby cars were damaged by the blast, and the windshield of a third vehicle was broken.

The area has been cordoned off, and the scene is being investigated by the police and the labour inspectorate. Sveinbjörn Berentsson told Vísir that such explosions are “uncommon,” adding that he had never witnessed anything like this himself.

Explosion in Álfheimar
Golli

Flooding, Wind Damage, and Stranded Travellers in Last Night’s Storm

extreme weather storm Sundlaugavegur

Gale-force winds and flooding kept firefighters, search and rescue teams, and other response crews busy across the Reykjavík capital area and Southwest Iceland last night. The storm swept a sports dome out to sea, ripped a bus shelter from its foundation, and caused flooding and transport trouble throughout the region. Weather has calmed slightly, though yellow and orange weather alerts remain in effect until this afternoon.

Capital area firefighters responded to 25 calls due to weather and flooding last night, in addition to one fire and 30 medical transports, RÚV reports. One of the projects was securing a bus shelter that had ripped from its foundation in the Gravarvogur neighbourhood so that it would not be carried away by wind. The same was not possible for Hamarshöllin sports dome in Hveragerði, South Iceland, which was blown out to sea in the storm. Rain, snow, and meltwater caused flooding across the region, and firefighting crews spent much of the night pumping water from homes.

Rescue crews transported around 100 people that had gotten stuck in their cars on Þrengslavegur road (Route 39) to an emergency response centre in Þorlákshöfn, Southwest Iceland. Their cars were left behind, to be transported once weather conditions improved. The response centre was set up by the Red Cross, which also assisted residents of Patreksfjörður, in the Westfjords, last night, who had to be evacuated from their homes due to the risk of avalanches. Twenty-eight were required to leave their homes in the town: 18 found accommodation with friends and family, while the remaining 10 were put up in a hotel.

Dry Weather Provides Conditions For New Year Brushfires

Ever since the 18th century, Icelanders have had a tradition of “burning away the old year” with bonfires, and later fireworks. This year, authorities didn’t permit bonfires due to COVID-19 but a snowless ground paired with dry, heavy winds provided the perfect conditions for brush fires in south and west Iceland over the first few days of the year. New Year’s fireworks and illegal bonfires exacerbated the problem, but in Mosfellsbær, a group of teenage boys helped save homes from burning down.

Brush fires were burning in various locations in the capital area on New Year’s Eve and the days following. Dry grass made kindling for most fires, but garbage containers and roofs also caught fire. All available firefighters responded to calls over fires on New Year’s Eve, and search-and-rescue teams were mobilised to help. On New Year’s Eve, 90 fires were reported to the capital area firefighters.

In Árnessýsla in south Iceland, the fire department fought 54 fires and got additional reports from locals who managed to extinguish some fires on their own. The deputy fire chief in Árnessýsla Lárus Kristinn Guðmundsson told RÚV that the fires left large areas burnt after New Year’s Eve. Even though authorities permitted no bonfires this New Year’s Eve, sparks from fireworks and illegal bonfires lit most of the flames. A snow-free ground and heavy dry winds provided perfect conditions for the fire to spread.

A residential building in Mosfellsbær was close to catching fire on New Year’s Day when a brush fire broke out in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Kids in the area noticed the fire and notified people closest to it. Using every tactic, they managed to extinguish the fire, but it was only two metres from a house when their efforts were finally successful.

Once the fire department arrived, the fire was mostly out. According to a resident in the house threatened by fire, some teenage boys were instrumental in extinguishing the fire. “They sort of rescued us. There were so many of them, and they were so quick, running around with shovels, blankets, and buckets. I think that was the most important part, how quick they were to run around with water and everything.”

In addition to the fires, seven people sought help at the National Hospital’s emergency room with fireworks-related injuries on their hands. Senior physician at the Emergency Room Hjalti Már Björnsson, noted that all seven cases included grown men, not children or teenagers. He told RÚV that there hadn’t been a notable increase in emergency room arrivals due to intoxication or assaults. “There were some but not noticeably more than usual.”

In Focus: A String of House-Fire Deaths Has Sparked Calls For Fire Safety Reforms

Fatalities from house fires have been rare in Iceland, but over the past couple of years, there appears to be an uptick in fire-related deaths. After a shocking arson case in June last year, which resulted in three deaths, a national conversation commenced. Does Iceland have a fire prevention problem? What can be done to […]

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Woman Dies in Hafnarfjörður Fire

fire firefighters Reykjavík

A woman in her sixties died in a fire in Hafnarfjörður in the capital area last night. Firefighting crews received reports of the fire just before 2:00 AM and arrived to heavy smoke at the scene. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire broke out in a triplex (a three-apartment building) and did not spread beyond it. Duty officer Rúnar Helgason told RÚV there was a fair amount of smoke when firefighters arrived at the scene but little fire. According to Rúnar, this is one indication that the fire had been burning for some time. “It was relatively localised and very little fire really, certain indications that it had been simmering there for some time.”

Smoke divers were sent into the building and were able to quickly put out the fire and find the woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The other residents received trauma support from the Red Cross. The police are now investigating the cause of the fire.

Brush Fires Break Out in Bone Dry Capital Area

brunasvæði sinubruni brush fire

Firefighters put out brush fires in Hafnarfjörður and Reykjavík yesterday, while police responded to several other reports of open flames kindled outdoors. Another fire occurred this afternoon in Kópavogur. Weather has been unseasonably dry in Iceland’s capital area in recent weeks and in other parts of the country. An uncertainty phase is in effect across South Iceland, West Iceland, and the Reykjavík capital area due to risk of forest and brush fires.

A brush fire broke out on Laugarnestangi in Reykjavík shortly before midnight last night. RÚV reports that one truck was sent to the scene and it did not take long to put the fire out. Another brush fire broke out in Hafnarfjörður between 2.00pm and 3.00pm yesterday, and took firefighting crews  around an hour to put out. The fire covered an area of around 600 square metres. Firefighters did not get a rest today, as another fire broke out in Guðmundarlundur grove in Kópavogur this afternoon. The fire is now under control.

Authorities Ask Public to Grill With Caution

South and West Iceland have received little precipitation in recent weeks, with mostly dry, sunny weather across the regions. Police declared an uncertainty phase in the regions after a forest fire scorched two square kilometres of Heiðmörk forest. No rain is in the forecast for the coming days. The Civil Protection Department has set up automatic text messaging to all those who enter South Iceland, warning of the risk of brush fires.

Authorities implore the public to avoid using disposable grills, as they carry a high risk of starting fires in surrounding vegetation. For those grilling on patios and at cabins, authorities recommend having buckets of water and fire extinguishers at hand, as well as wetting the surrounding vegetation with a garden hose before barbecuing. The public is asked to avoid lighting open fires.

Man Rescued from Sea by Harpa

A man was rescued from the sea near Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík on Saturday night, RÚV reports.

Police received a tip about an accident around Harpa just before 10pm on Saturday night. Less than 15 minutes later, around a dozen officers and firefighters arrived on the scene with a cherry picker, firetruck, and ambulance. The man was floating unconscious near the stone seawall when he was rescued.

Although suffering from cold after his ordeal, the man was conscious when he was transported to the hospital. No further information was provided about his condition or the accident itself.