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Poland: Firefighters contain “largest fire in years” in Biebrza nature reserve

Warsaw, Poland – Firefighters managed to contain the massive fire that had been devastating the Biebrza National Park since last week, the province’s fire brigade commander announced over the weekend.

Local police, border guard and residents also assisted the operation.

The massive wildfires, which started last Sunday evening, ravaged 6,000 hectares of Poland’s largest nature reserve, home to moose, beavers and unique wetland birds, as the country faces its worst drought in years.

“Spring is an abrupt explosion of life. It is impossible to calculate the loss. This is a tragedy, it cannot be described,” tour guide Janina Agnieszka Zach told TVN. According to Reuters, environmentalists say that the fire reflects ongoing climate change and urge the government to change its water management policies to fight the drought.

The Environment Ministry said it believes illegal grass burning was to blame for the fire, with the situation aggravated by strong wind and drought in Poland.

“Fires in the Biebrza National Park break out every year, but such a large one has not been there for years. The situation is very serious,” Environment Minister Michal Wos said in a statement.

“The wind and the unique drought this year make it very difficult to put out the fire,” he also said.

The Biebrza National Park is a 59,000-hectare nature reserve in north-eastern Poland, located close to the border with Belarus and Lithuania.

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