Kras wildfire not dying down, firefighters increasingly fatigued

Kostanjevica na Krasu – The situation in Kras, where a massive wildfire is raging for the eighth day, is not calming down Friday evening. There is increasingly more smoke around the village of Kostanjevica na Krasu, while firefighters are showing ever more signs of fatigue. Hundreds have been evacuated today, with many others ready to leave their homes if necessary.

No lives and no homes have been lost so far, while the fire rages on, with new hotspots emerging from one hour to the next. Spreading across more than 2,000 hectares this is the largest fire in Slovenia’s history.

Meanwhile, voluntary fire brigades from all across the country are pulling long 12-hour shifts. They showed evident relief when the Croatian water bomber arrived in the afternoon. Today as many as 11 choppers and a military aircraft were helping to put out the fire from the air.

Support from the air is crucial, as the area is scattered with unexploded ordnance from World War I, which means that firefighters can only work on the edges of the fire. Those in charge have said that they stopped counting the explosions going off.

“It is clear that the fire will burn for quite a few days more,” Ervin Čurlič of the regional Civil Protection headquarters told the STA. It will be impossible to put the fire out completely until rainfall. He hopes lives and properties will be protected.

After nearly 1,000 firefighters were on the ground today, he could not say how many exactly would be working during the night. “But every evening there were at least 500 and I believe tonight will be the same.”

He said firefighters were arriving and leaving, adding that firefighting is extremely stressful due to heat and unexploded ordnance.