Strasbourg ‘alba’ fire ‘started in Romans’ city’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The dying embers and ashes of a wildfire in southern France will smoulder for a long time to come, officials said A blazing blaze in the region of…

Strasbourg 'alba' fire 'started in Romans' city'

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The dying embers and ashes of a wildfire in southern France will smoulder for a long time to come, officials said

A blazing blaze in the region of Alsace in France has burnt for four millennia, according to scientists.

The blaze in Strasbourg and surrounding areas was named the “alba” because it originated in the eastern Roman city of the same name.

By analysing iron artefacts from the Iron Age, scientists say it started 4,000 years ago.

By some estimates it is still smouldering today.

“This fire sparked in the popular imagination because of the Italian movie,” researcher Goya Calvo-Baack told BBC News.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In 1977, arsonists in southern France set a haystack alight on the outskirts of Grenoble

“What people in Strasbourg do not know, though, is that that fire started in the Roman city at the same time.”

Mr Calvo-Baack, a senior scholar at the Museum of Central Europe and author of a book about the alba fire, says the archaeological fire in Strasbourg in the first century AD has long since perished and that his team were now examining burnt objects collected in the 1970s.

In 1977, arsonists in southern France set a haystack alight on the outskirts of Grenoble in an attempt to spread out a fire which had begun near Vincennes.

Mr Calvo-Baack says he believes the Strasbourg fire was not deliberate and likely the victim of natural causes.

There have been several linked alba fires in other countries over the centuries.

In the northwest of the continent, one in 1863 ravaged the region of what is now Sweden, and yet another in about 25 years later brought flames to forests in the Russian republic of Kalmykia, near the borders with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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