At the fire site, the wind picked up slightly during the day. “The wind always blows the transmission of the fire to a greater distance, and places that have already been extinguished, which are still at a high temperature, can start burning again thanks to the wind, because the wind helps to fan the rake,” Milan Rudolf, the spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Service, told iDNES.cz.
The flow of the Elbe is insufficient to extinguish the fire in Bohemian Switzerland. The Vltava basin therefore increases the outflow from the reservoirs of the Vltava Cascade, and the Elbe basin also responded immediately, increasing the flow of the Elbe near Střekov. The extensive fire did not spread during the night, firefighters are holding its border on an area of approximately 1,000 hectares
Due to the insufficient flow of the Elbe, the Vltava Basin therefore increases the outflow from the reservoirs of the Vltava Cascade to the Vltava, which flows into the Elbe. Minister of Agriculture Zdeněk Nekula informed about it. The reason for increasing the runoff is to maintain the optimal level of the river.
“The Vltava Basin is increasing the outflow from the Vltava Cascade by 20 cubic meters per second to help increase the flow of water in the Elbe. It means an extra 1.7 million cubic meters of water per day for firefighting,” the minister said on Twitter. The Elbe basin subsequently announced that it would increase the flow of the Elbe near Střekov in the evening. Helicopters continue to collect water from the river.
Since Thursday morning, Italian Canadair firefighting planes have been helping in the fight against the elements. They each have a capacity of over 6,000 liters of water. They are able to draw water in flight directly from the surface, they draw it from Lake Milada near Ústí nad Labem.
The lake is closed to the public from Thursday until further notice. The water area is supervised by the river department of the police. “You must not enter the water, people can move around it,” said Hana Volfová, spokesperson for the state-owned company Diamo, which manages the water area.
Coordination with Germany
The Saxon Minister of the Interior, Armin Schuster, also came to Hřensko on Thursday afternoon to familiarize himself with the situation. He was accompanied by Czech Deputy Minister of the Interior Jiří Nováček and Deputy HZS CR Petr Ošlejšek.
“We agreed (with Germany) on coordination. On mutual communication, rules, how we exchange officers,” said Nováček. “I am grateful to my Czech colleagues that the commitment of management and leadership is coordinated in this way,” added the Saxon Minister of the Interior.
“The flames don’t care about national borders. And neither do we,” Schuster said. According to him, it is necessary to build further coordination. Schuster also stated that German forces could be better deployed on the Czech side as well. The extent of the affected area in Saxon Switzerland is about a quarter of that of the Czech Republic, added Schuster.
The Czech army sent a third helicopter to the area on Thursday. The more powerful Mi-17 can carry a larger bambi water bag. He joined the firefighting right around noon.
So far, two army W3-A Sokol have been fighting the fire, one of them was withdrawn by the army on Thursday. After the technical inspection, they will be involved in extinguishing again. A total of 11 helicopters and planes helped the firefighters over Hřensk by Thursday, another police machine controls air traffic.
Slovakia, which will send 30 members of the armed forces to help the Czech Republic with a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter equipped with a fire-fighting module, decided on Thursday at an extraordinary meeting.
The Czech army will not send more soldiers to the affected area. “We have to comply with the requirements of the incident commander, and that is the firemen. At this moment, we only have a request from the firefighters for flight effort, which we are fulfilling. If necessary, we are ready,” said General Staff spokeswoman Magdalena Dvořáková.
There are 80 units and 450 firefighters in action
In addition to the two machines sent to help by Poland and Slovakia, two army and two police helicopters, as well as a helicopter from the Czechoslovak Group company, are fighting the fire.
There are 80 units and 450 firefighters in action on Thursday. With the help of mining machines, it was possible to create a safety belt on the Czech road. Firefighters manage to contain the fire on an area of 5×2 km.
“Until this morning, we managed to hold the front of the fire,” said Roman Vyskočil, director of the Ústí fire brigade, at the morning briefing. But small outbreaks still occur. By midnight, eight firefighters were treated for minor injuries, Vyskočil noted.
According to him, the situation was made worse by the weather in the last few days, as the direction of the wind was constantly changing. “Helicopters had to stop extinguishing due to smoke and reduced flight conditions,” added Vyskočil in the morning. After ten o’clock the helicopters were flying again.
The head of the HSZ of the Ústí Region emphasized that no one should travel to the affected area of the Czech Republic. “We would ask all citizens of the Ústí Region to be cautious and to prevent further fires,” he added.
According to Daniel Vítek, the spokesman for the Ústí police, the police did not solve any major problems. “People accept that the location is closed,” he emphasized. One person was trying to film the fire with a drone. According to Vítek, the police are investigating the case.
Firefighters from the villages of Hřensko, Vysoká Lípa, Mezná and Mezní Louka are defending against the fire, from which their residents and also tourists had to evacuate. “The village of Janov, which did not have to evacuate, and the buildings in other villages are safe from the fire,” Milan Rudolf, spokesman for the Ústí regional fire department, said on Thursday morning.
The residents of Ústí nad Labem felt the smoke from the fire in Český Švýcarsk again on Thursday morning. Hřensko itself is shrouded in fog. According to meteorologists, the measured values of harmful substances were within limits.
“The smell is unpleasant, but harmless to health,” said Klára Bubnová from the Ústí regional branch of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. It could start raining in the locality where firefighters have been extinguishing the fire since Sunday at Friday afternoon.
“It doesn’t blow, that’s why the smoke stays low,” added Bubnová. Meteorologists expect a weak variable wind in the north of Bohemia during the day. The first drops of rain could fall in Děčínsk on Friday afternoon at the earliest. It will rain more heavily on Saturday.
Firefighters have been working in Czech Switzerland since Sunday morning, and since Tuesday evening they have managed to contain the fire.