Major forest fire breaks out in Switzerland

AP News
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Posted: Apr 26, 2011 7:16 PM
Major forest fire breaks out in Switzerland

Police say almost 300 firefighters and the army are battling strong headwinds and dry conditions to extinguish a huge forest fire in southern Switzerland.

Firefighters aided by helicopters struggled to contain the blaze Tuesday night after it broke out at an auto repair shop on the outskirts of Visp and quickly advanced on forestland in the Swiss canton (state) of Valais.

The exact cause of the fire remains unknown. Authorities warned residents to remain inside their homes.

Lack of snowfall and an unusually mild spring have contributed to low lake levels and dry tinder in the forests of many areas of Switzerland.

Strong winds pushed the flames fast up the nearby mountainsides, blocking the main road to Visp, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from popular ski area Zermatt and the famed Matterhorn.