Norway fire chars wooden village of Laerdalsoyri

An aerial view of fire damage in Laerdalsoyri, southern Norway, 19 January Little more than ash was left in some places

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A night-time blaze has consumed at least 30 buildings in a heritage village in southern Norway, famous for its unique wooden buildings.

Scores of people were evacuated as winds fanned the flames in Laerdalsoyri, a village of 1,150 people in Laerdal, on Sognefjord fjord.

At least 90 people received hospital treatment but no deaths were reported.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was due to visit the village as investigators look for the cause of the fire.

Jonathan Josephs reports: ''The fire quickly spread, aided by strong winds''


The cottages in Laerdalsoyri are quintessentially Norwegian, the type that could inspire a thousand fairy tales. Their beams sag, heaving as the centuries pass. These ageing beauties attract thousands of tourists to this small village on the Western Fjords every year.

The flames caught intermittently, creating a patchwork of destruction. Most of the houses still stand, dagger-like icicles hanging from their verandas. But next door to some of them, crumpled, mangled kitchens, blackened heaps of memories.

Eighteen-year-old Leiv Thomas Faulkner's father died in 2012. Thomas had been meaning to digitise the photos. But he was still a teenager and never got round to it.

Now we're standing in front of what he tells me was, just two days ago, a three-storey wooden home, built in 1840. Only irretrievable remnants of the past, charred and buried, remain. For the tourists, it's sad, he says, but for me, this is my life.

While the flames appear to have been extinguished, police warned of a danger they could flare up again.

Residents expressed shock at what one described as "terrible" destruction.

Drone warning

Local farmers helped out while emergency services waited for firefighting helicopters to arrive.

At one stage, police told Norwegian newspaper VG that a helicopter was being delayed because of suspected media drones taking pictures in the area.

"It is important for us to stress that if someone is using drones, they must get them out of there," police spokesman Nils Erik Eggen said.

"This could create a hazardous situation and may pose a danger to helicopters."

The police could not say how many drones had been operating in the area.

The Laerdal district contains a stave church and many other historic wooden buildings, hundreds of years old, much visited by tourists.

A ruined building in Laerdalsoyri, southern Norway, 19 January Smoke was still rising from the ruins on Sunday

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