Kras blaze intensifies again, three villages being evacuated

Kostanjevica na Krasu, 21 July - After calming down a bit over the night, the wildfire in the Kras region has intensified again, with the firefighters currently battling the blaze in three separated locations. Three villages are being evacuated as the area effected by the fire has exceeded 2,000 hectares, as reported by Civil Protection officials.

A massive fire in the region of Kras.
Photo: Notranjska Civil Protection headquarters

Civil Protection head Srečko Šestan told the STA that this is the largest fire in history of independent Slovenia. "This is the first estimate", he said, noting that the "fire is nowhere near its end."

Giving the firefighters the most trouble is the fire near Klariči, a hamlet below the Kraški Rob fault near the Italian border. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, announced the regional Civil Protection headquarters.

They are being assisted by helicopters of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and of the police and three helicopters from abroad - Austria, Slovakia and Croatia, as well as the Pilatus transport aircraft of the SAF.

The army has also ensured a medical unit, and will also prepare meals for the firefighters on the ground. Police officers are meanwhile working on evacuating endangered residents from the villages of Temnice, Vojščice and Novela.

Ambulances and first aid teams from the Nova Gorica area are also on high alert, while employees of the Forest Service are helping the effort by guiding the firefighters and clearing up corridors to help stop the fire from spreading.

The fire is also sparking explosions of unexploded ordnance from the First World War. Darko Zonjič of the national unit for the protection against unexploded ordnance told the STA they stopped counting the explosions.

Only the explosions close to roads are being marked, and the sites will be inspected later. "There were quite a few explosions over the night as well, as the temperatures at the fire site are much higher," he said.

On Wednesday, 18 pieces of unexploded ordnance were removed from the villages of Sela na Krasu and Korita, and two were removed today, Zonjič said.

© STA, 2022