Bulgaria– Nikolay Nikolov, head of Bulgaria’s Fire Brigade and Civil Protection Directorate, has rejected allegations that the efforts to put out the wildfire raging in the Vitosha Mountain since Sunday are chaotic.
“There may be problems here and there, but the overall level of organization is not bad,” he said Wednesday.
Asked to comment on the criticism leveled by volunteers, who said that they had been prevented from taking action to extinguish the fire for three hours, he admitted that their transportation to the site had been delayed.
The expert explained that the trucks took 45 minutes to get to the site of the fire in Vitosha’s Bistrishko Branishte reserve.
He said that the volunteers had gathered at 5.30 am and the last batch had headed for the designated area at 9 am.
Nikolov specified that a total of 490 people would fight be fighting the flames on Wednesday, 150 of them volunteers.
He said that the helicopters would help after 2 pm, when the people would pull out of the site due to the extreme heat.
The expert attributed the diverging reports about the total area hit by the fire to false estimations made on Sunday.
“At first sight it seemed to be around 50 decares, but it emerged Tuesday evening that the territory was around 250 decares,” the head of the Fire Brigade and Civil Protection Directorate added.
At present, a living forest of 5-6 decares is burning near the village of Zheleznitsa.
A T-62 tank converted into a fire fighting vehicle has headed for the site.
Volunteer teams have repeatedly complained of the striking disarray surrounding the firefighting operation, hinting at deliberate delays.
The operation is headed by Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
Late on Tuesday, Bulgaria’s government eventually decided to turn down the international offers of help for the wildfire.