Summer Wildfires Sweep Europe Again
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Aug 20, 2012
56,000 hectares of land ravaged in Croatia fires
Zagreb (AFP) Aug 20, 2012 -
Some 56,000 hectares (138,379 acres) of land were ravaged in fires in Croatia since January, 55 percent more than during the same period last year, the national rescue services (DUZS) said Monday.
The number of blazes has risen to more than 7,800, an increase of 25 percent compared with January-August 2011, the Hina news agency reported, citing the DUZS statement.
Most of the fires were registered along the coast where almost 24,000 hectares were burnt, while more than 32,000 hectares of land were ravaged in continental Croatia, it added.
Croatia has been hit by dozens of fires that have burned several thousand hectares along the scenic coastline since July.
On Monday, about 140 firefighters battled a blaze in the coastal area around Sibenik, where some 500 hectares were in flames.
An Italian firefighter died and another was injured on Monday when they were overcome by fumes from one of dozens of wildfires raging in the country as a heatwave reaches its peak, officials said.
The man was killed in the Campania region near Naples, which has been the worst hit by forest fires this season with regional officials saying around 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of land have been scorched there this month.
The fire service reported there were a total of 155 forest fires across Italy on Sunday including in the central Tuscany and Lazio regions.
The civil protection agency said planes and helicopters had to be called out to 30 separate incidents times on Monday to help battle the blazes.
Dirt, rocks and all the stuff we stand on firmly
Scores of mastic orchards ravaged by Greek wildfire|
Athens (AFP) Aug 20, 2012 -
Scores of mastic orchards on the Greek island of Chios were destroyed in a forest fire that has been ablaze for three days,, according to local officials on Monday.
The trees, whose aromatic resin is used in pastries as well as medicine and cosmetics, were damaged mainly by "the thick cloud of ash that covered the region", a fire department official told AFP.
The resin, derived from the Mediterranean shrub Pistacia lentiscus, had been almost ready for harvest when the wildfire hit.
Fanned by strong winds that reached 62 to 74 kilometres (38 to 46 miles) per hour on Sunday and Monday, the fire destroyed mastic crops in some 20 villages in the south of the island, before spreading to the north.
Firefighters continued to fight the blaze Monday with the help of seven helicopters.
According to estimates by local authorities, 30 percent of mastic resin output was destroyed.
The economy of the eastern island "depends on mastic cultivation, which suffered a major blow following this fire," Efthimis Moniaros, president of the Chios mastic growers association, told Skai radio.
Greek media reported that more than 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) of pine forest and crops have gone up in smoke in the fire, with scores of hives also destroyed.
Several fires broke out over the weekend, with the most serious on the islands of Zante and Andros, on Mount Pelion and in the Peloponnese. Two French tourists were detained Monday on Andros on suspicion of starting the local fire, police said.
Greece is hit by wildfires, many started by arsonists, every summer, the flames fanned by high temperatures and strong winds.