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article imageMontenegro wildfires rage but 'under control' in Croatia and Portugal

By Olivera NIKOLIC (AFP)     Jul 19, 2017 in Environment

Firefighters in Montenegro battled for a third day Wednesday to douse wildfires along the Adriatic coast, while blazes ravaging parts of neighbouring Croatia as well as Portugal were brought under control.

"We expect a firefighting plane that has arrived from Ukraine to join in... Fires could be localised and put under control during the day," Montenegrin local firefighting chief Zoran Babic told local media.

Montenegro sought international help two days ago to battle the flames which broke out late Sunday. Swiss and Bulgarian helicopters and a waterbombing plane from Israel were expected to arrive later Wednesday.

The fires on the Lustica peninsula had forced the evacuation of more than a hundred campers and threatened the neighbouring towns of Tivat, Herceg Novi and Kotor.

At least 15 fires were active throughout the small Balkans country, the interior ministry said.

Apart from five fires in Lustica and a few villages, fires broke out overnight near the towns of Cetinje, Niksic and the capital Podgorica, a statement said.

Further north along the coast in Croatia, where a dozen wildfires had also broken out on Sunday in the villages surrounding the popular tourist destination of Split, the situation was returning to normal, officials said.

"We cannot say that (fires in Split region) are extinguished but they have been localised," the head of the firefighters in Split, Ivan Kovacevic, said late Tuesday, adding there was no danger for people and buildings.

According to Croatia's firefighting commander Slavko Tucakovic, the fires were possibly caused by sparks from electric power lines. A probe has been launched to establish the cause.

The cause of the fires in Montenegro is still not known.

The burnt out carcass of a car in the Portuguese village of Vila Cha
The burnt out carcass of a car in the Portuguese village of Vila Cha

Major forest blazes that raged since Sunday in northern Portugal were meanwhile brought under control overnight.

The temperatures dropped significantly and were due to drop to 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) comparing to 35 C in the previous days.

However, more than 2,400 firefighters remained on the ground to prevent the fires from spreading again.

"The amelioration of weather conditions was good for fighting fires," a spokeswoman of civic protection Patricia Gaspar said Wednesday, urging the population, however, to remain vigilant "despite the lull."

Last month Portugal battled a giant fire in the central region that raged for five days, killing 64 people and injuring more than 250, with many trapped in their cars by the flames.

Following the tragedy, experts said Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires because the country is highly exposed to global warming's climate-altering impacts.


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