Smoke from a wildfire in southwestern Greenland is hampering the wild reindeer hunt on the Arctic island, best known for its ice rather than burning grass and bushes. 

Local police say billowing smoke from a blaze on the uninhabited island of Nassuttooq, covering an area of up to 15 square kilometres, "could result in people losing their bearings."

Hunter Erik Nielsen told Greenland broadcaster KNR Monday that it means they can't go hunt reindeer for now. 

It was unclear what started the fire, which was detected in satellite photos last week, and authorities have not yet assessed how to tackle it.

Climate change has contributed to the melting of Greenland's vast ice sheet in recent decades, with more parts of the island expected to become arable as global warming frees previously frozen areas.