Armed Forces in Sweden attempt to stop wildfire with a bomb

Sweden stop fire with bomb
Soldiers attaching the bomb to the aircraft. Photo: Jerry Lindbergh/Swedish Armed Forces

One of the numerous wildfires in Sweden happens to be in a military practice range that contains unexploded shells. Firefighters can’t enter the area so the Armed Forces decided that the best way to stop the fire was to drop bombs on it.

Below is an excerpt from an article at

At noon on Wednesday the Armed Forces dispatched two Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets to drop a bomb on the flames as a last resort, with the hope that the pressure from the blast would help contain the blaze.

“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,” said fire and rescue team leader Johan Szymanski in a statement.

“Our preliminary assessment right now is that this had a good effect.”

The bomb, model GBU-49 according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, was dropped from 3,000 metres reaching speeds of 550 km/h before hitting its target with metre precision.

It managed to extinguish fires up to 100 metres from the target, according to initial reports.

If you look carefully at the video below you will see the bomb leaving the fighter jet. And then in the distance as the bomb hits the ground, a growing plume of dust or smoke.

The Swedes are not the first to come up with the idea of using bombs to stop a fire. In 2010 we wrote about Bazalt, a Russian manufacturer of  aircraft bombs, that designed one intended to put out a forest fire. It can detonate either on the ground or above it, dispensing a liquid over 1,000 square meters, about 1/4 acre. Bazalt says one aircraft could carry up to 100 of these fire extinguisher bombs.

And in 2014 an Australian researcher experimented with explosives in New Mexico, hoping the result would be a directional blast that could put out a forest fire, or at least a portion of one.

Drought and high temperatures result in numerous wildfires in Sweden

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Eight European countries are sending firefighters to assist

Above: A convoy of dozens of pieces of fire apparatus from Poland en route to assist Sweden in battling wildfires. Screen grab from the Bella B video below.

(Originally published at 11:37 a.m. MDT July 24, 2018)

The most severe drought in 74 years accompanied by higher than normal temperatures have set the stage for a rash of large wildfires in Sweden. Temperatures are expected to reach 30C (86F) all week which is significantly higher than the more typical 23C (73F). The heat is unprecedented and the country is not prepared for such temperatures.

At least 27 fires are burning across the country, covering 25,000 hectares (61,000 acres).

The government has issued a call for help to deal with the blazes. Many countries in the EU have responded, including Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Denmark, Portugal, Poland, and Austria. In a press release the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center said 7 fixed wing aircraft, 7 helicopters, 60 vehicles, and 340 firefighting personnel had been offered to Sweden.

Poland sent 45 fire engines which were greeted by cheering Swedes waving Polish flags as the firefighters traveled to Sveg in the central part of the country.

Wildfire threatens urban area in Sweden

Above: a water scooping air tanker based in Italy drops water on a fire in Stockholm, Sweden June 15, 2018.

A wildfire in the Nacka area of Stockholm, Sweden burned close to an urban area on Friday. In addition to firefighters on the ground, scooping air tankers from Italy were seen working the fire.

Local authorities said Saturday morning that the fire’s spread had been stopped:

We are in place and work with the remaining fires. It no longer burns up in trees or bushes, but down in the vegetation, moss roots and the like. We have the fire surrounded and it is controlled, but there is a lot to do in the area, “says operative manager Per Tillander, at Södertörn’s Fire Defense Association.

The fire department will remain at least throughout the day and probably also on Sunday.

There is still smoke from the fire, which covers 90 hectares, but the smoke is much more diluted than yesterday, and it is more about smoke smell than smoke.

Update #2: One dead in large wildfire in Sweden

Update, August 6: We received a call from a Swedish government official on August 5 after we posted the article below, asking if we had any recommendations on where they could obtain some air tankers to help suppress their fire. It turns out that the loan of the four water scoopers from Italy and France was falling through, partially due to political reasons, he told us. He asked about the 747 SuperTanker, and we told him that in light of Evergreen’s bankruptcy the status of that air tanker is in doubt. But we gave him some leads on several companies in the United States and Canada that may have some air tankers available that could fly over to Sweden to give them a hand. We made him promise to call us back in a couple of days to let us know how it turned out.

Update August 7: After checking, they could find no large air tankers available in North America. France eventually came through with four C-415s, and Italy with two.


(Originally published at 7:16 a.m. MDT, August 5, 2014)

One person has been killed in one of the largest wildfires to have occurred in Sweden. The man in his 30s was found dead on a road north of Staback, Vastmanland. Another man found on a road in Staback was severely burned.

On Monday nine individuals, apparently not affiliated with a fire department, volunteered to drive water trucks to the fire, but became trapped by flames. With the aid of water dropped by helicopters, firefighters rescued them hours later. After that incident fire officials said they would no longer accept help from private individuals in the firefighting effort.

The 38,000-acre fire has forced the evacuation of about 1,000 people.

“It’s burning deep into the ground and across large areas. It’s going to take months to extinguish,” fire Chief Per Hultman was quoted saying in the Expressen newspaper.

In addition to the helicopters working the fire, four water-scooping air tankers, two each from Italy and France, will begin assisting firefighters on Tuesday.

The fire has been burning since Thursday 120 kilometers northwest of Stockholm. About 100 firefighters are assigned to the fire.