Foreign air forces withdraw from Kras fire site

Kostanjevica na Krasu – All foreign air force units that have been helping fighting the huge wildfire in the western region of Kras for over a week, have withdrawn after the blaze was brought under control on Sunday. 240 firefighters remain on the ground monitoring the site for potential rekindling of the fire and cleaning up and watering the edges of the site of burning.

A press release from the regional Civil Protection headquarters cited the head of the morning shift Sebastjan Kozar as saying that the firefighters were also keeping watch for developments at two hotspots on the northern side of Trstelj, the highest peak in the area.

The two spots are in a terrain that is very hard to access. There is another one near the village of Novelo, where a Slovenian air force helicopter has intervened.

Stanko Močnik, who was in charge of the teams during the night, reported that 734 firefighters were deployed on the ground over the night, keeping the site under control and cleaning and watering the edges of the fire site.

The firefighters are cooperating and exchanging information with the Italian forestry police, who are in charge of the firefighting operation on the Italian side of the border.

More than 2,000 people, including almost 1,500 firefighters, were involved in the operation in the Slovenian section of Kras on Sunday.

Air force units from Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Austria were also involved in the effort to contain and put out the fire, and two Romanian Spartan aircraft dropped water on the site in the afternoon. A Croatian water bomber had also taken part in the effort in the previous days.

In total, more than 10,000 voluntary and professional firefighters have been involved in the effort so far. They were helped by some 1,200 members of various support units, including Civil Protection and the army.

The fire, the largest Slovenia has ever had to face, spread over some 3,000-3,500 hectares. No major damage to buildings has been reported so far with people thanking the firefighters for protecting them from the flames in various ways.