Balkans struggle with wildfires, high temperatures

Balkans struggle with wildfires, high temperatures

08 August 2013

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Bosnia and Herzegovina — Firefighters and military forces throughout the region are battling extreme temperatures, winds and dry conditions as they face a rash of wildfires that are threatening numerous communities.

One of the most difficult situations is in Jablanica, a municipality in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where about 150 hectares of forest are on fire.

“The fire is huge and we are fighting to save the houses in some villages,” Omer Dreznjak, commander of Jablanica Fire Department, told SETimes. “Complete units are on the ground and we are doing everything we can. Helicopters and local residents have also been hired to extinguish the fires. We are concerned by the strong wind that has blown for almost seven days. Colleagues from Mostar told me that Croatia should send Canadair, which will make this job much easier.”

The fire swallowed the vineyard in Trebinje, while smaller fires in Mostar have been extinguished.

The armed forces also are involved in fighting the blaze.

“For four days, six helicopter flights were carried out, where pilots of armed forces were extinguishing the affected area in the municipality of Jablanica for more than 10 hours. In this manner, the armed forces readily met all the requirements of civilian structures with which we have good co-operation,” Uma Sinanovic, spokeswoman of Defence Ministry of BiH, told SETimes.

Croatia air forces were involved in extinguishing 34 wildfires across the country and also assisted in firefighting in BiH, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Israel, according to a statement from the Croatia Defense Ministry.

Currently, there are several fires in Serbia, but firefighters have them under control.

Djordje Babic, deputy chief of the Department for Emergencies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, said that a Russian firefighting aircraft arrived in Serbia a few days ago and will be in service throughout the region.

“Based on the agreement that we have, the plane will be in constant readiness, and if necessary will refer to the place of fire. As far as co-operation concerned, we have very good co-operation with Montenegro for several years, as well with BiH,” Babic told SETimes.

Zeljko Majstorovic, deputy director of the Federation of BiH’s Weather Service Agency, said the temperature is expected to exceed 41 degrees by the end of the week.

“What is worrying is that there will be no rain in the near future, so all the service of protection, like firefighters, should be in the condition of special alert. Warm weather will remain until the end of September and the first relief can be expected next week,” Majstorovic told SETimes.

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