The Swedish armed forces took an interesting approach to firefighting Wednesday as a pair of fighter jets dropped bombs on wildfires spreading across the country.
The wildfires that have raged across central Sweden for nearly two weeks amid hot and dry summer weather have engulfed a shooting range in Älvdalen, where the prolific presence of unexploded ordnance has made it difficult for firefighting units to get close enough to the blaze to contain it, The Local SE reported Wednesday. Searching for an alternative solution to this particular problem, the military got creative.
“The oxygen from the fire can be removed with the help of a bomb, and in this case, it was possible to try it, because the fire is at a firing range,” fire and rescue team leader Johan Szymanski reportedly said in a statement. “Our preliminary assessment right now is that this had a good effect.”
Two Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets released GBU-49 bombs over the forest in Älvdalen, Sweden, according to local outlet Aftonbladet, which reported that the laser-guided munitions were dropped from a height of about 10,000 feet, causing them to hit the earth at a speed of about 300 miles per hour. The explosion managed to extinguish an area with a radius of about 300 feet. (RELATED: A Deadly Wildfire Is Threatening California’s Yosemite National Park)
The Aviationist reports that Sweden dropped a 500-pound GBU-12 bomb.
The Swedish armed forces have previously used artillery to try to extinguish smaller fires in military areas, specifically shooting ranges. The decision to bomb the fires Wednesday was in response to a questions raised about a difficult situation.
“This was an attempt to solve a unique problem in a hard-to-reach area,” the deputy director of Urban Defense told the Forsvarsmakten.
The forest fires in Sweden began earlier this month and have spread across an area of about 250 square kilometers, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur. SOS Alarm, the Swedish emergency services, reported 42 active fires Wednesday. Local firefighters supported by around 340 firefighting personnel and aircraft from several other European countries battled fires in other parts of the country while the military was bombing fires in Älvdalen.
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