Safety experts: ‘It is conceivable that the Heuvelrug will burn down completely’

Safety experts It is conceivable that the Heuvelrug will burn

Framework: what does wildfire risk entail?

Research by Cathelijne Stoof (Wageningen University) in close collaboration with the fire brigade and the NIPV shows that in most cases wild fires are caused by human action, for example by a spark that jumps from a roaring exhaust on a dry roadside. This mainly happens in the spring, when plants have little sap flow and trees have few leaves. But due to the increasing drought, summers are now also an increasingly better fire season in the Netherlands.

We will not soon see fires on a scale such as in California and Australia in the Netherlands. But that is not necessary to have a significant impact because the Netherlands is densely populated. This means that fires are noticed more quickly, but also that a small fire can quickly threaten a campsite, healthcare location or museum. To give an impression: according to the VRU, there are 150 care locations, 45 campsites and two zoos on the Heuvelrug.

According to researchers at Wageningen University, things have gone wrong regularly throughout history. In total, they counted 31 deaths from wildfires and a large number of life-threatening situations, especially for firefighters. They ran for their lives, jumped into ponds, left their fire extinguishers behind and ended up under burning branches. At least two serious wildfires have already occurred on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. One, near Woudenberg in 2018, resulted in the highway to Arnhem having to close for a while.