Border Guard aircraft join fire fight in Poland's biggest nature park

Several hundred people battle the fire including troops of the Territorial Defence Force, park employees and local residents. Artur Reszko/PAP

Two Border Guard PZL-Kania helicopters and a PZL-104 Wilga plane have joined efforts to contain a massive fire that has raged in the north-eastern Polish Biebrza National Park since Sunday, the Polish Border Guard announced on Twitter on Thursday.

According to the latest data, the fire has razed around 6,000 hectares of Poland's biggest nature reserve, located in the north-eastern part of the country, close to the border with Belarus and Lithuania.

The area of devastation has been calculated from information received from firefighters, as well as from drones and satellite images.

At night, firefighters supervised several sensitive areas, and their service passed calmly, as there were no strong winds and the fire did not spread extensively.

On Wednesday, several hundred people battled the fire including troops of the Territorial Defence Force, park employees and local residents.

Biebrza National Park covers a total area of 59,000 hectares and protects valuable swamplands which are home to a range of rare species of birds, as well as elk.

Fires in the national park occur every year, but usually do not exceed a total area of 200 hectares over a 12 month period. The park has not seen a disaster of a comparable scale in more than 12 years. Nearly all the fires are the result of human actions, intentional or accidental.

On Wednesday, PM Mateusz Morawiecki decided to channel an additional PLN 600,000 (EUR 132,000) to fight the fire, government spokesman Piotr Mueller announced.