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'Worst forest fire in living memory' continues to rage in Sweden

The severity of the blaze prompted authorities to declare it a national emergency.

Sweden Wildfire A helicopter dumps water on the wildfire just outside the evacuated village of Gammelby near Sala. Source: AP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg, TT News Agenc

SWEDEN HAS DECLARED a state of emergency as a massive forest fire continues to burn into its seventh day.

France and Italy have sent specialised firefighting aircraft to help douse the fast-moving blaze, described as ’the worst in living memory’.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the hardest hit region around the town of Sala on Monday night, according to local media, and thousands more were put on alert on Tuesday to prepare to leave their homes at short notice.

The blaze has so far claimed one life, and another man was seriously injured.

The Local reports that the fire continues to burn this morning and that while it is still ‘out of control, authorities believe it no longer poses a threat to the Norberg, a town of 4,500 people.

Sweden Wildfire Source: AP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg

More water-bombing is due to take place later day, the website adds.

About 100 volunteers helped firefighters as 13 helicopters struggled to navigate through thick smoke to drop water on the worst affected area.

As much as 15,000 hectares have been destroyed by the fire, the Wall Street Journal reports, prompting authorities to declare the event a national emergency on Monday night.

Sala had the hottest temperatures in more than two decades at over 34 degrees Celsius with little prospect of rain in the coming days.

The emergency services agency said it will take several weeks to completely quench the fire and that it was considering burning sections of state-owned and private forests to cut off the progress of the blaze.

Additional reporting © AFP 2014

Read: Former Attorney General given honour by Swedish royal family >

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