Fires rage across southern Europe

Firefighters struggle to contain blazes that have burned thousands of hectares.

A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire close to the Croatian southern Adriatic resort of Dubrovnik [AFP]
A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire close to the Croatian southern Adriatic resort of Dubrovnik [AFP]

Many fires had been brought under control but some 3,000 hectares of forest were still ablaze in the southern region of Maglizh, while 11 houses burnt down in one village near Kyustendil in the west, and 12 people were evacuated from the southern village of Studenetz.


Firefighters were also still battling at least 30 forest fires across Macedonia on Saturday, most of them in the Tetovo region, about 50km from Skopje, and in Gostivar, around 70km west of the capital.


Six helicopters sent from Germany, Slovenia and Turkey were helping quell the flames, while planes were also being sent from Norway, Russia and Turkey.


Forecasts predicted the searing temperatures in Macedonia would continue through Monday.


In Greece, five fires were still burning in the northwest of the country, and nearly 300 firefighters, around 60 fire trucks, four planes and four helicopters were busy battling the flames.


The wildfires in Achaia in the Peloponnese that since Tuesday have destroyed around 100 homes and properties, laid waste to more than 15,000 hectares and killed three elderly villagers who did not flee the area, was also “shrinking back,” the fire department said.


In Calabria in the far south of Italy, firefighters were however still battling blazes threatening several scattered homes, while further north in Campania, helicopters were trying to quell a blaze that for days has been roaring through a forest north of Naples.


Italy on Friday declared a state of disaster for its worst-affected areas in the centre and south of the country, while authorities indicated that around 10 people had been arrested on suspicion of arson.


In Romania, meanwhile, the capital and eight southern counties were placed on fire alert amid continued scorching temperatures, which have already sparked blazes across the country that in the past 48 hours alone have turned several hundred hectares to ashes.


In Slovakia, about 70 firefighters were on Saturday still battling flames that broke out when lightning struck down in the heatwave-parched eastern national park Slovensky Raj (Slovakian Paradise) on July 22.


In Croatia meanwhile, only one wildfire that has been burning in the national park on the Velebit mountain since Thursday was still raging, and some 200 firefighters backed by water-bomber planes were battling the flames.


And in Spain‘s Canary Islands, campers and residents had to be evacuated overnight while fireman fought two blazes laying waste to several hundred hectares.


In Tejeda, a mountainous and wooded area in the centre of Gran  Canaria, 180 firemen backed up by five water-carrying helicopters battled a fire which had already destroyed more than 800 hectares, a  spokesman for the government environmental agency told AFP, adding that it was possible arsonists were to blame.


On the small island of La Gomera, 60 people were also evacuated in the hamlet of Chipude as firefighters tackled a blaze which destroyed at least 150 hectares and threatened the pristine Garajonay National Park.

Source: News Agencies

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