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A helicopter dumps its load of water on the wildfire front just outside the evacuated village of Gammelby near Sala, central Sweden August 4, 2014. REUTERS/Fredrik Sanberg/TT News Agency


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - One person has died and hundreds have been evacuated, authorities said on Tuesday, in Sweden's biggest forest fire in modern times as the six-day-old blaze spread across east-central areas of the Nordic country.

Several villages in the Vastmanland region were evacuated on Monday and the County Administrative Board warned the roughly 5,000 inhabitants of Norberg they might have to go shortly too.

It said the fire, declared a matter of national concern, had enveloped a heavily forested area measuring about 15 km by 10 km. Emergency crews were working hard to contain the blaze. "The situation is serious," the board said on its website.

The fire broke out after an unusual spell of hot, dry summer weather in northern Europe.

The European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre said on Monday two Italian firefighting aircraft were on their way to the affected region and local media said they were due to arrive around midday on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Anna Ringstrom, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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