Wildfires set off explosions in Bosnia minefield

Wildfires set off explosions in Bosnia minefield

09 August 2012

published by www.ajc.com 

Bosnia and Herzegovina– KONJIC — As firefighters tried to contain two wildfires near an ammunition factory in southern Bosnia on Thursday, one of the blazes began setting off explosions in a minefield left over from the country’s war in the 1990s, officials said.

No one was injured, but the risks of entering the minefield and heavy winds were making it difficult for the firefighters and several military helicopters assisting them to battle the two blazes in the populated area.

Both fires were threatening the Igman ammunition factory on the outskirts of Konjic village from opposite sides, with one of them burning in the heavily mined forest.

“We are doing our best but with the heat and the wind the fires are spreading fast and there is not much we can do about it. It’s all in the minefields,” said Fadil Tatar, commander of Konjic civil protection.

Tatar, who is in charge of coordinating the rescue services and firefighters, said several explosions could be heard Thursday morning as the fire set off some of the mines.

This summer has been one of the hottest on record in Bosnia, and it hasn’t rained in the country for two months.

The ammunition production at the factory is located in underground tunnels, which could decrease the danger that the fires were presenting, authorities said. They did not say how much ammunition was being stored there.

One of the two fires was raging just 500 meters (yards) from people’s houses.

Further south, several villages were evacuated because of other fires that have been raging around the southern city of Mostar.

In eastern Bosnia, near the town of Gorazde, another wildfire was burning in a minefield, but the blaze was not close to people’s homes and didn’t appear to be setting off explosions, officials said.

Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war turned it into one of the world’s most mine-infested countries.



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