Archive picture shows fire alert warning in Kalmthout

Continuing dry weather triggers first problems: "Situation will not improve in the short run"

The continuing dry spell in Flanders has triggered an orange alert for the natural park Kalmthoutse Heide. In Limburg, the yellow alert may also become an orange one soon; meanwhile, farmers are confronted with thirsty crops. The drought is bound to continue for at least 10 days. 

The Agency for the Protection of Nature and Woodlands has activated the orange alert for several natural parks in Antwerp province, such as the Kalmthout heathlands. The means the danger of fires is imminent: park rangers are extending their shifts in the watch tower to monitor the situation. In 2011, the heathlands were hit by a big blaze (photo below) which wiped out some 600 acres of one of Flanders' most renowned natural parks. 

The orange alert also applies to the Eksterheide, De Merode, Most-Keiheuvel and Tielenheide. Visitors are asked to pay particular attention, and to avoid smoking, keep an extra eye on the children and inform the park authorities if they notice anything suspicious. 

More dry weather is expected, and temperatures will rise next week

In Limburg province, it's the yellow alert alert that applies at present, but this may soon change. The VRT's weather presenter Frank Deboosere says more dry weather is expected, with temperatures rising sharply as from Tuesday, as a dry north-easterly wind brings in dry air.

Farmers are being confronted with problems across Flanders. It's not the first time a drought hits their lands, and the number of applications to construct a water reservoir is on the rise. However, as we had a wet winter, the water levels of rivers and streams are not yet below par. But the crops badly need rain, and the impact is already being felt. 

BELGA/LUYTEN