Firefighters contain fire in Poland's biggest national park

The firefighters were still putting out pockets of fire. Artur Reszko/PAP

Firefighters on Friday afternoon managed to contain a massive fire that had been devastating Biebrza National Park since Sunday, province fire brigade commander, Jarosław Wendt, has announced.

However, as of Friday afternoon, the firefighters were still putting out pockets of fire and the operation was planned to end no sooner than Saturday morning.

Military engineers are expected to build a temporary bridge to improve access to the national park for firefighters and other services, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced earlier on Friday.

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 Wendt. Several hundred people are battling the blaze, including firefighters, territorial defence forces and park rangers. Local police, border guard and residents are also assisting the operation.