Croatian Prime Minister Kosor Visits Brac After Huge Forest Fire
Jadranka Kosor compares the island of Brac to the moon's surface as she inspects the devastation wreaked by Croatia's largest fire in 2011.
Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor arrived on the island of Brac to personally inspect the damage caused by one of the worst forest fires in Croatia's history, according to a report in Jutarnji List on July 17, 2011.
"It looks terrible, like the surface of the moon," said Kosor from the fire brigade's operational headquarters in the hilltop village of Nerezisca. "I expect a swift investigation into the cause of the fire, and if it was started by a human factor, expect those responsible to be take full responsibility."
A Tourist Island Burns
The fire, which has devastated the western part of one of Croatia's most popular islands, has destroyed more than 4,000 hectares of pine forest, vineyards and olive groves and led to the evacuation of 200 tourists from the village of Bobisce. Brac is best known for its Zlatni Rat at Bol, Croatia's most famous beach, as well as the indigenous white stone, which is used in construction all over the world, including the White House in Washington.
The fire broke out on Thursday evening and was clearly visible to tourists on the ferry from Stari Grad on Hvar to Split (see main photo), spread quickly due to a strong southerly wind, and destroyed more than 2,500 hectares on the first day.
Impressive Official Response
The Croatian authorities mounted an impressive fire fighting effort, including 400 firefighters, 75 vehicles, 5 CL-415 Canadair, 3 AT-802 airplanes and 2 Mi-8 helicopters. The constantly changing wind direction and inaccessible terrain made it difficult to contain the fire, but it is a measure of the official efforts that nobody was injured or houses damaged.
The fire was clearly visible from the mainland, with the city of Split showered in ash, some 17 km away, while the blue skies over neighbouring Hvar were interrupted by the smoke. With some reports suggesting that up to a quarter of the island has been torched, the long-term effects on tourism of the fire are as yet unknown.
Speculation has already begun into the cause of the fire, although no official conclusion has yet been reached. Local speculation has centred on tourists barbecuing meat to casually throwing away a cigarette butt. Croatia has enjoyed an exceptionally hot and dry June and July, with little rain and temperatures in the mid-thirties.
Forest Fires in Croatia
The issues of forest fires is a serious one in Croatia, and there have been several major disasters in recent years. Among the worst was the £30 million of damage caused by aCroatian student in 2010, when an attempt to take revenge on a thorny bush resulted in the loss of 500 acres of protected land in the Paklenica National Park, while the most serious case of forest fire occurred on August 30, 2007 in the Kornati National Park when twelve firemen lost their lives, and whose investigation has been marred with accusations of a cover-up into the real facts.