Czech and German firefighters battle blaze in national park

HRENSKO, Czech Republic: Hundreds of firefighters reinforced by units from neighbouring Germany battled a wildfire in a Czech national park for a third day on Tuesday (Jul 26) after the blaze destroyed houses and forced authorities to evacuate villages.

The fire on the German border in a popular tourist area sent smoke drifting across the Czech Republic, including to the capital Prague located some 209km away, Prague and regional fire departments said on Twitter.

The fire was still not under control and had swept through 741.32 acres of the park by Tuesday afternoon as the blaze grew in size throughout the day, CTK news agency reported, citing a park spokesperson.

Slovakia, Poland and Italy pledged helicopters and planes to help fight the fire which forced the evacuation of children from a German summer camp.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala on Tuesday visited the area where authorities suspect the blaze was ignited by a negligent park visitor over the weekend. The blaze jumped fire breaks on Monday when winds shifted, officials said.

Fire Rescue chief Vladimir Vlcek told a televised briefing on Tuesday that firefighters were working to contain the fire but said it was difficult to estimate when they could achieve this.

A brutal heat wave last week with temperature spikes above 40 Celsius led to wildfires across swathes of southern Europe.

The fire in the Czech park is the second this year after another smaller blaze in April.