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Czech forest fire smoke drifts across country

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People in many areas of the Czech Republic have been advised by the fire brigade to keep their windows closed as they fight a big forest fire.

Parts of the Bohemian Switzerland national park, which sits on the German border, have been burning since Sunday.

Amid record temperatures and dry conditions, strong winds have sent the smoke drifting across the country.

Homes have been destroyed and the smell of smoke has reached the capital Prague 100km (60 miles) to the south.

Smoke has also been detected in the Pardubice area, 180km to the south-east.

Hundreds of Czech firefighters were deployed as the fire destroyed areas of forest and homes in the village of Mezna. The fire was also threatening the nearby village of Hrensko, close to the German border, and dozens of people were forced to flee their homes.

Three German teams who had been helping later left for the German side of the border as the blaze started to spread. Tourists were urged to avoid the area as the alarm was raised around Bad Schandau in the Saxon Switzerland national park. The environment and forestry minister in the eastern state of Saxony said the fire was a tragedy for the region and everyone who relied on tourism for their livelihood.

“There are fires in Bohemian Switzerland every year but not on such a scale. We are no longer talking in terms of hectares, but rather square kilometres,” the head of the national park Pavel Benda, told Czech media.

The national park is a popular tourist attraction, and there are fears for its naturally formed sandstone arch – the largest in Europe – which has featured in a number of films, including The Chronicles of Narnia.

 

Source: BBC

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