The forest fires in the fire season 1997 of Bulgaria were considerably less in number and affected area than in the preceding fire season 1996, where the burned forest area amounted for over 2,150 ha and the number of fires reached 246. In 1997 the burned forest area reached 860 ha (rounded) with a total number of 167 forest fires. Altogether this is a slight increase compared to the mean surface area of forest fires in the last decade with approximately 500 to 600 ha burned area per year.
The destroyed forest vegetation is distributed in:
Conifers 419 ha Deciduous 277 ha Non-woody and herbaceous surface 164 ha Total surface 860 ha
The largest forest fire did not exceed an area over 25 ha due to the fact that initial attack and suppression was fast. The fact that the year 1997 was fairly rainy especially in the months of June and August was contributing to the successful operations. The highest amount of fires occurred at the month September (43) and May (36) whereby the smallest occurrence was observed in June (5) and August (4); this proved the influence of the rain on fire occurrence particular in the months of June and August.
The fire causes of the fire season 1997 were mostly classified as unknown (106). The rest of the causes are distributed into negligence (abandoned fires) = 28, natural causes (lightning) = 10, agricultural burning (debris burning) = 14, and intentional fires (arson) = 9, set by individuals which were all caught and punished afterwards.
Most fire incidents (133, covering 555 ha) took place in the South of Bulgaria were the vegetation consists predominantly of conifers.
The fire-fighting organisation in Bulgaria is still not yet very well organized. The fire engines are very seldom utilized – only in regions accessible by car. Airplanes and helicopters are never utilized in the initial attack, although they are used in some incidents for reconnaissance.
Despite all this, the fact is that fires in the forests of Bulgaria are a relative seldom phenomena and the devastated surface area accounts only for 0.025% of the total forested area (3.6 million ha) of Bulgaria. Nevertheless there is no reason to relax since most of the increased number of fires burning the forests are caused by negligence and carelessness.
From: Mr. Yordan Kurpanov Address: 26, rue Murphy Sofia 1505 Bulgaria