Wildfires strike Croatia's Dubrovnik region

Wildfires strike Croatia's Dubrovnik region
By Aida Kadyrzhanova in Almaty July 26, 2023

Wildfires ravaged parts of Croatia's Dubrovnik region, a popular Mediterranean tourist destination, on July 24 following strong winds and scorching temperatures.

Local footage showed the fires spreading rapidly, prompting the deployment of 16 fire engines and 95 firefighters, with additional support from the country's airforce. Although the winds have subsided, the fires continue to burn, posing a threat to settlements in Župa, particularly the village of Plat.

“It's not a good situation, the strong wind made it difficult for us all morning, but this hurricane wind that started in the afternoon disrupted everything we were doing and trying hard for. Everything literally went downhill," said the county fire chief Stjepan Simović, as quoted by local media.

"The fire approached houses last night, and the situation was not easy. Fortunately, they were defended, and there were no serious consequences. This morning, the Canadair planes came to our aid. We are climbing towards the top of the hill, and we hope that we won't have significant problems during the day," Simović added.

Southern Europe, including countries like Italy, Greece and Turkey as well as the Balkan region, has been grappling with an alarming increase in wildfires due to extreme heatwaves. The Mediterranean Sea itself experienced a record-breaking temperature of 28.7C, raising concerns about its impact on marine life.

In Greece, wildfires have been particularly destructive, claiming the lives of two pilots who were battling the spreading flames. The country faced a third successive heatwave last week, with temperatures soaring above 40C in some areas. Evacuation orders were issued for the islands of Corfu and Evia, and a wildfire on the island of Rhodes continued its rampage, consuming vast areas of mountainous forest, including part of a nature reserve.

In light of the situation on Rhodes, where around 19,000 people were evacuated to protect residents and tourists from uncontrollable fires, there is growing concern about the possibility of mass evacuations in Dubrovnik. Both regions share Mediterranean climates and have faced wildfires during this period of extreme heatwaves.