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Fire rages through Laerdal, destroying much of historic Norwegian village

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Norway is a beautiful country, drawing visitors with its breathtaking fjords, mountains and quaint, historic towns.

Sadly, one of those quaint towns was consumed by a raging inferno this weekend.

The fire started Saturday. Fueled by strong winds, the blaze destroyed much of Laerdal by the time it was extinguished Sunday. According to BBC News, the blaze whipped through at least 30 buildings, including 16 homes, industrial buildings and community centers. Hundreds were transported to regional hospitals.

Laerdal's deputy mayor and chief physician Geir Berge Overland described the fire, as reported in The Local: "It is a disaster. For those who are there it is an inferno. There are flames and smoke everywhere and a powerful wind that makes the situation very difficult."

The Laerdal district is a popular tourist destination in western Norway. Its church and well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses have long attracted visitors from around the world.

"It's hard to look at the pictures," said Sigrun Hovland, a Norwegian native who lives in Huntsville. "Norway's so rich in history and beautiful architecture. To have so much destroyed in one small village —and so quickly — is very sad."

The town was evacuated when the fire was in full force. State police are reportedly on hand, securing the town's perimeter.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.