VIDEO: Firefighters battle massive blaze in iconic Polish national park

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Hundreds of firefighters and border police are using planes and Black Hawk helicopters to try and contain a disastrous blaze which has engulfed the Biebrza National Park and claimed 6,000 hectares of forest and meadow.

According to the Environment Minister Michał Woś the damage is already “unrecoverable”.

Valuable protected nature including wild birds are being destroyed, but the minister commended the action being taken to counter the disaster and promised to look into the possibility of legislation to contain the grass stubble burning that likely triggered the blaze.

“The Forestry’s firefighters are in the air from dawn helped by police and army choppers… The fight continues. The government has already put in 6 million PLN,” said Woś.

The fire is thought to have been caused by the burning of grass stubble in nearby areas, with the drought and wind fueling the rapid spread of the fire. Firefighting forces are praying for less wind and, if possible, rain. The government has already dedicated almost €1.5 million to fight the fire.

The situation is improving after a slowdown in the spread of the fire, but firefighters do not want to commit themselves to a timeframe on how long it will take to put the blaze out. The terrain it covers is difficult as it includes marshland which is hard for firefighters to access.

Spring fires are a regular occurrence in the Biebrza area, but the current blaze is the biggest in the history of that national park. It has moved onto moorland where it could burn for a long time to come, and it is believed that only generous rainfall can successfully counter that danger.

Curent weather forecasts do not look favorable for rainfall in the near future.

The chief in command of operations briefed journalists on progress fighting the fire, saying, ”M-28 Bryza planes and Mi-8 choppers on reconnaissance missions are active in the area of the fire”.

The Biebrza National Park is one of the largest in Poland, covering 59,000 hectares. It contains valuable nature reserves of marshland hosting rare wildlife, especially birds and moose.

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