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Forest fires rage in southern Swiss Alps

Helicopters from a private company and the Swiss Air Force dropped water over a forest near Mesocco in southern Switzerland Keystone

More than 30 people have been evacuated from their houses due to forest fires in southern Switzerland. Strong winds and the ruggedness of the terrain are hampering efforts to contain the blaze.

This content was published on December 28, 2016 - 18:03
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ug/a.c

The mountainous region south of the Alps hasn’t had any rain for more than a month.

Local fire brigades have been deployed to try to contain the blaze. The defence ministry said five army helicopters helped drop water for aerial firefighting on Wednesday.

Difficult terrain and strong winds are make it hard for firefighters to contain the fire Keystone/Ti-Press

Nevertheless, the blaze in the Mesocco Valley managed to spread across an area equivalent to 90 football fields due to dry conditions officials said.

The A13 San Bernardino motorway was temporarily closed and at least four people were evacuated as a precaution in the village of Mesocco.

Police expects it will take several days or weeks to put out the fire. It is not known what started the fire on Tuesday.

A smaller fire was also reported from the neighbouring Calanca Valley on Wednesday. 

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Two other forest fires broke out in the region, but they are apparently under control.

Rescue services evacuated about 30 holiday makers from a mountain village above the main Leventina Valley, south of Faido, following a fire which was started by teenagers according to police.

A smaller fire was also raging on Monte Ceneri, but officials said the situation was under control.

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