Croatian Fires Still Raging, but Wind Abates

August 3, 2003 - 0:0
ZAGREB -- Firefighters said on Thursday they were close to containing most of the huge forest fires that have ravaged Croatia's southern Adriatic coast, a popular destination for many holidaymakers.

About 2,250 hectares (5,580 acres) of pine forest, olive groves and scrub were destroyed in at least six fires that struck the Dalmatian islands of Brac, Hvar and Bisevo and the mainland Paklenica national park this week, Reuters reported.

"After a whole night of fighting the fire, and with the wind abating, the situation is now somewhat improved but all the blazes are still alight," deputy state fire chief Tomislav Vuka told Hina News Agency.

Almost half of the 600 hectares of pine forest on the resort island of Bisevo was destroyed in the fire, which also razed several empty houses. No injuries were reported.

The agency said locals and tourists had joined firefighters in battling the blazes.

The biggest fire was in Paklenica national park, a popular destination for climbers, and was still spreading as rough terrain was hampering firefighters, it said.

It is not clear whether the fires, almost a regular summer nightmare for residents on the Croatian coast, have been caused by the hot and dry weather or arsonists.

Police have arrested several individuals this summer and charged them with starting fires near the Adriatic cities of Dubrovnik and Split.