Forest Fire Breaks Out Near Pitve on the Island of Hvar
The first forest fire of 2011 on the island of Hvar was quickly brought under control by firefighters, causing much less devastation than previous fires.
A forest fire broke out at on April 6, 2011 on the island of Hvar in Croatia and was tackled by teams of fire fighters from both land and air, according to a report in 24 Sata. The fire started close to the ancient inland village of Pitve, next to the Zavala tunnel, at 17.55 and was quickly attended to by local firefighters.
Firefighting from the Air
A total of forty firefighters in seven vehicles tackled the blaze and were supported by sea water poured onto the fire by a Canadair CL-415, one of a fleet of aging firefighting planes used to tackle forest fires in Croatia.
The plane made several circles through the neighbouring coastal town of Jelsa 2 km from the fire before descending to scoop up water from the Adriatic Sea, before dispensing it on the fire. The prompt response and efficient organisation of the local firefighters, who have vast experience of dealing with forest fires, ensured that the fire was brought under control and was extinguished by 20.00. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Previous Forest Fires on Hvar
Forest fires are a constant threat on the island of Hvar, famed for its 2724 hours of sunshine a year and voted as one of the top ten beautiful islands in the world by readers of Conde Nast. The island suffered terribly in the summer of 2003 as fires raged all over southern Europe, with fire encroaching Jelsa and the hilltop village of Selca. Another severe fire in 2007 destroyed large tracts of forest closer to Hvar Town, one of the premier tourist destinations in Croatia.
The Threat of Forest Fires in Croatia
Hvar apart, Croatia's environment has suffered from numerous forest fires in recent years, many of which are started accidentally by careless tourists. A Croatian student caused an estimated £30 million of damage in 2010 and was jailed for 15 months after his attempt to take revenge on a bush got out of control. The student, Jure Erceg, set fire to a bush which had pricked him consistently in the preceding days – his actions devastated 500 acres of protected land in the Paklenica National Park and killed numerous animals and birds.
The most serious loss of life due to forest fire occurred on August 30, 2007 in the Kornati National Park when twelve firemen lost their lives. The facts surrounding the deaths of these firefighters has been one of the most controversial issues in Croatia in recent years, with accusations of a cover up by the authorities.