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News 22 Aug 17

Croatia Summons Firefighters to Subdue Forest Fires

The forest fires devastating the coastal region of Dalmatia have prompted authorities to sound the alarm for all Croatia’s firefighting units.

Sven Milekic

Croatian authorities sounded the alarm Tuesday to summon the nation’s firefighters to help tackle devastating new forest fires that have been raging in the coastal region of Dalmatia since Sunday.

 “The alarm was sounded for all the fire brigades in the Republic of Croatia. Yesterday, about a hundred members of the army were engaged … The situation is quieter this morning, but we should be careful,” Slavko Tucakovic, the head of all Croatia’s fire brigades, told media on Tuesday.

“I hope we will bring all the fires under control, but we should be careful because the bora [north-eastern wind] will strengthen in the afternoon. Most important is that no one was hurt,” he concluded.

On Tuesday morning new fire broke out near the village of Pucisca on the island of Brac. Another on the nearby island of Hvar was extinguished Monday.

At the same time, fires continued to burn in and around the coastal towns of Makarska and Omis in the south, to Zadar and Sibenik in the north. The wind is causing severe difficulties for the firefighters.  Units from continental Croatia are helping local firefighters in tackling the blazes.

Fires have also crept close villages around the central town of Drnis. Firefighters evacuated 20 mostly elderly citizens to the kindergarten in the town.

In the southern village of Pristeg, the fires also started to approach houses, which firefighters have been battling to save.

Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic visited the central municipality of Promina on Tuesday to thank firefighters for their efforts.

A forest ranger in Krka National Park told police Monday that six people had allegedly admitted to causing one of the fires. Police confirmed that in total seven people have been arrested starting the fires – five of whom are underage.

According to media, two of those who have been connected to the fires are Serbian citizens. Neither Croatian police nor the Serbian foreign ministry were available to confirm the reports.

Almost every summer Croatia fights forest fires on the coast and in the inland Dalmatia region.

In July, devastating fires struck the region surrounding the coastal city of Split, spilling over into some city neighbourhood.

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