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Montenegro wildfires rage but ‘under control’ in Croatia

A picture taken on July 18, 2018 shows burned cars in the village of Zrnovnica, near the Adriatic coastal town of Split. Montenegro asked on July 17 for international help to fight wildfires in the Lustica peninsula on the country’s Adriatic coast, while forest fires in neighbouring Croatia spread to suburbs of the coastal city of Split. About a dozen wildfires had raged since late Sunday in the villages surrounding Split, a popular tourist destination. / AFP PHOTO / –

Firefighters in Montenegro battled for a third day Wednesday to douse wildfires along the Adriatic coast, hoping to put them under control after international help arrived.

Further north along the coast in Croatia, where a dozen wildfires had also broken out on Sunday in the villages surrounding a popular tourist destination of Split, the situation was returning to normal, officials said.

“We expect a firefighting plane that has arrived from Ukraine to join in… Fires could be localised and put under control during the day,” Montenegrin local firefighting chief Zoran Babic told local media.

Montenegro sought international help two days ago to battle the flames which broke out late Sunday. Swiss and Bulgarian helicopters and a waterbombing plane from Israel were expected to arrive later Wednesday.

The fires on the Lustica peninsula had forced the evacuation of more than a hundred campers and threatened the neighbouring towns of Tivat, Herceg Novi and Kotor.

At least 15 fires were active throughout the small Balkans country, the interior ministry said.

Apart from five fires in Lustica and a few villages, fires broke out overnight near the towns of Cetinje, Niksic and the capital Podgorica, a statement said.

The situation was meanwhile rapidly improving in Croatia, officials said.

“We cannot say that (fires in Split region) are extinguished but they have been localised,” the head of the firefighters in Split, Ivan Kovacevic, said late Tuesday, adding there was no danger for people and buildings.

According to Croatia’s firefighting commander Slavko Tucakovic, the fires were possibly caused by sparks on power lines due to the heat, but a probe was launched to establish the exact cause.

The cause of the fires in Montenegro is still not known.

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