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Dutch village evacuated as precaution due to wildfire smoke

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A village of 4,000 people in the southern Netherlands was evacuated Wednesday as smoke from a wildfire in a nearby national park drifted over homes, authorities said.

Residents of Herkenbosch, a village close to the German border and 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, were ordered out of their homes as a precaution due to concerns about high levels of carbon monoxide in the smoke, Mayor Monique de Boer said.

“In the times we're living through — the corona era — we don't take the decision lightly to move people from home to evacuation centers,” De Boer said.

By early afternoon, villagers still had not been allowed back, as firefighters tackled the blaze. Police were patrolling the cordoned-off center of the village.

Residents were allowed to leave in their own cars or in transport organized carefully by authorities who also were concerned about people who might be infected with the coronavirus.

Those with confirmed infections were directed to a “corona hotel” in the nearby town of Roermond, the local municipality said.

The fire was burning through trees and grassland in the Meinweg National Park and it was not immediately clear when residents would be allowed to return home. Two army tanks were sent to the park Tuesday to help firefighters cut containment lines.

Several wildfires have broken out in recent days in the Netherlands in parks that have been dried out by weeks of rainless, sunny weather. Earlier this week, a Dutch nursing home where several residents were infected with the coronavirus was evacuated due to another wildfire.

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