Devastating fire in Poland's biggest national park under control

Military engineers on Saturday completed the construction of a temporary bridge to improve access to the national park for firefighters and other services. Artur Reszko/PAP

A massive fire that had been devastating Biebrza National Park since Sunday was largely contained as of Saturday afternoon and the army had built a temporary bridge to improve access to the park for firefighters.

As of Friday afternoon, the blaze had been contained but firefighters were still putting out pockets of fire.

Military engineers on Saturday completed the construction of a temporary bridge to improve access to the national park for firefighters and other services, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced on Twitter.

The Biebrza National Park, a 59,000-hectare nature reserve in north-eastern Poland, is located close to the border with Belarus and Lithuania. The park protects valuable marshland and peat bogs which are home to a range of rare bird species, as well as elk.

The fire started on Sunday evening and has consumed about 5,300 hectares of park, according to province fire brigade commander, Jarosław Wendt. Several hundred people were battling the blaze, including firefighters, territorial defence forces and park rangers. Local police, border guard and residents were also assisting the operation.