Balkans heat wave fuels forest fires in Bosnia

Associated Press Modified: August 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: August 21, 2012
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BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Authorities on Tuesday declared a state of emergency around a town in Bosnia's northeast and a tourist area was evacuated in the country's south as a heat wave fuelled wildfires across the Balkans and left people suffering heat exhaustion.

Bratunac Mayor Nedeljko Mladjenovic declared the emergency as he said wildfires from several directions were threatening his town. Around 50 residents are helping firefighters and forest rangers fight a blaze creeping towards the suburb of Slapasnica, and the town's civil protection agency has asked for help from the army and residents.

In the country's south, firefighters are battling four blazes around the town of Konjic and townsfolk and tourists have begun evacuating houses near Boracko Lake as the extreme heat and strong winds have hindered the extinguishing of approaching blazes.

Many tourists staying at the lake are Bosnians who live in Germany, returning home for the holidays. Zorica Muskovic arrived last week from Munich.

"This is really not pleasant at all, I am scared. I want to leave as soon as possible," she told the AP.

Aida Gakic from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, who earlier evacuated two of her children from the resort, said she and her husband were unsure of the local fire brigade's capabilities, so decided to stay put and protect their property.

"We are terrified of the fire and rocks falling down from the mountain. I evacuated my children, and I only stayed behind to defend my weekend house, ' she said.

Many of the fires swept through fields still dotted with mines from the Bosnian War, which took place in the region between 1992 and 1995. The resort is situated on a former frontline.

Tourists said that they could hear loud explosions from the forest as the mines were set off by the blaze



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