Fires break out across the country in dunes, nature preserves
Several fires broke out in natural areas on Friday, including sand dunes and beaches, on Friday. These were mostly brought under control by Saturday, but the Netherlands Fire Brigade warned of an increased wildfire risk posed by the ongoing drought.
Firefighters brought a large heath fire near the Noord-Brabantse Schijf under control on Friday, but the security region reported it would take well into the evening to extinguish the blaze. Around 1.6 hectares of forest and heath were lost, and more than a hundred firefighters helped with the blaze at the Rucphense Heide. No one was injured.
Rucphen Mayor Marjolein van der Meer Mohr said she was shocked by the wildfire, which caused a lot of smoke and was difficult to control due to wind gusts. According to the fire brigade, the blaze could flare up again underground in the coming days. People are warned not to park their cars in tall grass or smoke in the nature reserve, and to call 112 immediately at any sign of smoke or fire.
In Rockanje in Zuid-Holland, a beach tent in Swinsesdreef burned to the ground on Friday. Flames began "shooting out of the building" on Friday morning for unknown reasons, and the building could not be saved, according to a fire brigade spokesperson.
The fire brigade worked to extinguish the flames for hours and gave the signal that the fire was under control shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday. Because the fire raged in a nature preserve, water had to be brought from a distance by special vehicles and piped through large hoses connected to tankers.
Around 8:15 p.m. on Friday, a fire also broke out in the dune area near Santpoort-Noord. An NL-Alert was sent out asking people to leave the area. "We scaled up quickly because it is dry and because it is a dune area," a spokesperson said. No injuries were reported in the fire.
Because of the heightened risk of wildfires, the Netherlands Fire Brigade is calling on municipalities, the Rijkswaterstaat and provinces to mow roadsides near nature reserves and clean up the clippings. Loose branches and wood by the side of the road should also be cleaned, since a spark from the road is enough to start a wildfire. In addition, there is less water for fire-fighting available from streams, ditches and canals due to the drought.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times