Since yesterday, a large forest fire has erupted in Brecht, Flanders, after a firing drill by the army. According to the latest reports, about 1,000 hectares of land would have been destroyed. The fire has not yet been controlled.
As a precaution, 400 residents and camp were evacuated yesterday. They had to spend the night somewhere else. At the moment, it is not safe for them to return, Mayor Sven Deckers told VRT.
Black smoke can be seen in the wider area, even Antwerp, which is 30 kilometers away. Fire brigades intervened throughout Flanders to put out the fire.
Since the Belgian military does not own the fire-fighting helicopters themselves, the Dutch army has been helping since yesterday with two Chinook helicopters in an attempt to extinguish the fire from the air, according to the VRT report.
There is a lot of criticism of the Belgian army, which conducted exercises in the nature reserve. Usually there is an army fire fighting vehicle ready in the training area, but it was under maintenance yesterday. This allowed the fire to spread quickly.
An unknown source close to the Army Command speaks about an unfortunate circumstance. “That car could have provided the first rapid intervention.”
But even if that car was there, no one was working in it. The only two employees allowed to work with the fire extinguisher have retired for at least five years, VRT writes.
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