Balkan Forest Fires

The Balkans Forest Fires 

30 July 2007

On Sunday 29 July 2007 the fire expert deployed by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) on request of UNDP / OCHA-UNEP Joint Environment Unit arrived in Pristina, Kosovo. UNDP had been requested assistance by the Department for Management of Emergencies, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kosovo Provisional Self Government.

According to a report of the UN Development Coordinator in Kosovo of 26 July 2007, Kosovo has been hit by a strong heat wave since 15 July 2006. The heat has severely affected the entire territory of Kosovo and was manifested by extremely high temperatures especially in urban centres and central part of Kosovo and continuous increase of forest fires within entire territory but with specific accent on west and southeast part.

As it was reported by both national authorities and media forest fires has been up to over 71 fires areas in same period, However on 26 July about 20 forest fires were registered primarily in border areas with Albania and Macedonia. As reported by the recently established Kosovo Situation Centre fires has been very active within the region of Peja, Prizren, Gjakova, and Dragas with fire lines of up to 15 km in vicinity of the Albanian border as well several km long in the neutral territory at the Macedonian border.

The Government has stepped up its response to forest fires spreading in rural Kosovo during this unusually intense summer heat wave. Government has established an ad-hoc crisis council chaired by Minister of Interior taking the coordinating role primarily thought Situation Centre and Department of Emergency Management. Local media report that hundreds of acres have been burnt in central and western Kosovo, and that over 23 homes have been destroyed by fire. No human losses reported so far.

In urgent meeting government has announced emergency situation and required immediate engagement of local crisis management centers involvement as well as requiring assistance form local population and international community.

As the forest fire has been attacking rural communities there are considerable losses created with the rural areas primarily effects related to livestock but also almost 10 % of the forest has been considered as destroyed.

 National Response:

Under leadership of the Minister of Interior the extensive response has been provided primarily though active engagement of the relevant units of the Ministry of Interior, Kosovo Protection Corps and local authorities engaging more than 700 local fire fighters, with support by KFOR limited to three helicopters currently in service. KPC has also been called in to help address the situation, and is working to mobilize additional resources and capacity as well as the government has officially required for voluntary engagement of the citizens and the private sector especially in the critically affected areas.

Through official channels government has required assistance of the UN and international community to overcome the challenge.

Today (Monday 30 July 2007) the GFMC expert (Alexander C. Held) will meet with the UNDP task force and the Kosovo Situation Centre (TBC), then conduct a field assessment of fires burning in Kosovo. Meetings with KFOR headquarters, NATO, EU and with UNMIK are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday 31 July and 1 August 2007.

TERRA satellite 29 July 2007 09:01 UTC

Source: DLR / MODIS

Latest Fire Situation Report from Macedonia, FYR: Wildfires not contained, Solunska Glava fire mostcritical

Most wildfires that raged across Macedonia have beencontained except for a few huge fires in woodland in the central part of thecountry.

Crisis Management Center says the fire that broke out atSolunska Glava and the village of Belica scorched a three-kilometer rangelandmainly grass. The fire has spilled over to Patiska Reka pastures as well as toMilankov Kamen and Jasen National Park.

Around 90 soldiers are battling the blaze on the groundincluding two German helicopters. The operation requires 30 more soldiers giventhe intensity of the blaze.

The forest fire at Patiska Reka is still burnining. The fire wascontained three days ago but it restartedon Monday.

The Belica fire is also still burning and it has spreadedon toJasen. As many as 60 soldiers arestruggling to contain the blaze.

The Jakupica fire has not been contained so far due to the inaccessible terrain.

The fire that started near the village of Krusica, Kicevoarea, has spilled over to the fieldsabutting the village of Svetoraca, near the roadto the village of Krusica. The blazescorched oak forest and pastures. The firewas contained.

The fire that started near the village of Plasnica,Makedonski Brod area, consumed morethan 80 hectares of forest and still burning.

The Galichica fire, Ohrid area, is also still burning andhas spreadedon to Albania. The inaccessibleterrain hampers the firefighting efforts. Theblaze that spreaded onto the village ofLjubanista and Magaro, is burning rangeland andwoodland.

The fire that started Sunday near the village ofZabrcani, Prilep area, isalso burning outof control. The locals and the forestry police arebattling the blaze.

(Source: this section of the report is prepared byNikola Nikolov, UNISDR Regional Southeast Europe / Caucasus Wildland FireNetwork for GFMC)

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