Albania – TIRANA, July 12 With summer temperatures at record highs and lack of rain, wildfires have spread across the country this week, burning whole areas of forests and pastures.
According to civil emergency officials, 12 forest and bush fires raged in the regions of Shkodra, Gjirokastra, Vlora, Elbasan, Tirana, Korça, Fier and Dibra. Several dozen acres of land have been burnt down.
The countrys armed forces have joined forces with civil firefighting units to help stop the fires. In all, about 200 people are actively fighting the fires, authorities said.
Due to the high risk and the impossibility of using firefighting vehicles, Albanian army helicopters are also involved in fighting rural fires in Diber and Tepelena. Fires are also threatening inhabited areas in Shkodra region.
Wildfires are not new in Albania, causing considerable damage to the countrys economy and the environment every year.
Authorities and residents complain there is a lack of adequate capacity to cope with such situations. In most municipalities, firefighting vehicles are old and some dont work at all. In other towns, there is no fire service at all.
Albania is also the only country in the region that has no specialized aircraft to extinguish fires from the air, particularly needed in difficult terrain where land-based vehicles cannot go.