Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Fifteen Years Pass Since Devastating Kornati Tragedy

August the 30th, 2022 - Fifteen whole years have passed since the devastating Kornati tragedy took the lives of twelve out of the 23 firefighters sent to the island of Kornat to battle the wildfires that had broken out there on the 30th of August, 2007.

A series of horrendous wildfires broke out between June the 1st and August the 8th, 2007, and the period is even referred to as the 2007 Croatian coast fires. The fire which broke out on the island of Kornat, part of the heavily visited Kornati National Park, became the horrific scene of the worst Croatian firefighting accident in the history of firefighting in this country.

As Morski writes, twelve tremendously brave and selfless firefighters lost their lives either at the scene on the island of Kornat, or died later on when in hospital. The only survivor at that time was 23-year-old Frane Lucic from Tisno.

In Vodice, the commemoration of another sad anniversary of the Kornati tragedy began with a parade of local fire brigades. The pilots of the 855th firefighting squadron of the HRZ also paid their respects to the firefighters with a canadair flight over the town, writes HRT.

At the monument to the victims, a model of the helicopter that flew over the Kornati National Park on the fateful day, as well as the black box from that aircraft, which was subsequently lost, were placed.

''Our message that we wanted to showcase with this is that the black box was removed from the helicopter and was lost on the day of the accident and it has still not be found, fifteen years have now passed and the question arises as to why it even disappeared in the first place,'' said Matija-Karlo Valincic, president of the Vodice Fire Brigade.

Some of the families of the fallen firefighters who lost their lives to the fire that day still think that they were doused with kerosene from a helicopter. Officially, according to experts, the Kornati tragedy was caused by different versions of a "rare natural phenomenon" - an eruptive fire, the combustion of an inhomogeneous gas mixture and a fire with an eruptive effect. In the case against former fire chief Drazen Slavica, the court rejected the possibility that the firefighters died due to the effects of kerosene. In the meantime, Slavica has been legally acquitted and will now sue the state.

Despite the passage of time and the chances of getting answers seeming to get further and further away as the clock ticks, the families whose lives have been stuck in summer 2007 ever since the Kornati tragedy aren't giving up on their search for the truth and for justice. They have jointly submitted a constitutional complaint and requests to the European Court of Human Rights.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Istrian Firefighters Giving Tourists Info About Fires at Border Crossing

July the 17th, 2022 - With terrible wildfires raging around the Sibenik area, Istrian firefighters have stepped up their game in informing people about fires and how to avoid causing them at the border crossing.

As Morski writes, Istrian firefighters, more specifically members of the Umag public fire department, where busy handing out educational leaflets warning tourists entering the Republic of Croatia about the dangers of fires on Saturday morning at the Plovanija border crossing with neighbouring Slovenia.

''Over the last few days, we have unfortunately witnessed large fires in the wider Istria County area, which, thanks to the quick reaction of Istrian firefighters, were extinguished in time without human casualties or any major material damage. Since the tourist season is now in full swing, and a large number of tourists are coming to Croatia every single week, it's important to send out the message about responsible behaviour to as many people as possible and as such hopefully reduce the number of fires and other accidents,'' said county fire chief Dino Kozlevac.

That's why the Istrian firefighters of the Fire Association of Istria County, led by Dino Kozlevac and Umag fire chief Bojan Stokovac, have been busying themselves handing out leaflets at the border crossing with Slovenia at Plovanija, which contain all kinds of advice on the proper, conscientious behaviour and numbers of emergency services to call in the event of a fire in eight languages.

''The very high fire hazard index is a consequence of the lack of rainfall and very high temperatures, so, in the first half of this year, there has been an increased number of wildfires breaking out in open spaces and an increase in the size of the total burned area recorded throughout Croatia,'' Kozlevac emphasised for N1.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Dalmatian Firefighters Get Surveillance Equipment as Summer Approaches

May the 14th, 2022 - Dalmatian firefighters have got their hands on some very welcome brand new equipment as the height of the summer season rapidly approaches and temperatures soar, which often results in wildfires being sparked.

As Morski writes, Split-Dalmatia County handed over new communication and surveillance equipment to Dalmatian firefighters recently, and the equipment was procured within an Italian-Croatian cross border project, having been financed from the European Regional Development Fund. The total value of the project stands at a massive 316 thousand euros.

The value of the equipment delivered to Dalmatian firefighters costs 307 thousand kuna, and among the most interesting pieces of the new package delivered was an innovative software platform that integrates institutional and local sources and also takes into account data about fire threats published on social media.

''The platform retrieves data that has been published publicly on social media and filters it using artificial intelligence and sends it directly to the emergency services so that they can better assess the threat and respond in an appropriate manner,'' explained Ognjen Cavar, the project manager.

In addition to constantly equipping Dalmatian firefighters, which is something Split-Dalmatia County uses European Union funds for more than others do, new fire houses are being built on the islands and in the hinterland, as reported by HRT.

''As the crown of all this, we're working on a new training centre in Vucevica which will be of exceptional value as it won't only benefit Dalmatian firefighters but also those from a much wider area and even in the rest of Southeastern Europe,'' emphasised Blazenko Boban, Split-Dalmatia County Prefect.

When it comes to the summer tourist season, when most fires are started and which can result in tremendous damage, the firefighters are as ready to deal with issues as they possibly can be.

''So far, we've had over two thousand interventions, some of them being fires, some being technical interventions. We work all year round and of course we are ready for what may happen this summer,'' stated Ivan Kovacevic.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 11 October 2021

This Year's Fire Season Sees 20% Fewer Wildfires Despite Extremely Warm Weather

ZAGREB, 11 Oct 2021 - The Croatian Firefighting Association (HVZ) on Monday presented results of this year's fire season, noting that the season was extremely warm but that the number of wildfires was 20% down from 2020.  

There were 3,004 wildfires this year against 3,778 in 2020.

The area consumed by wildfires this year was 59% smaller compared to last year, but during the peak season, from June to September, the increase in the size of the area consumed by wildfires compared to 2020 was as much as 400%.

Two civilians were killed, 11 firefighters, five civilians injured

In the entire fire season, 11 firefighters and five civilians were injured while two civilians were killed in a wildfire that erupted due to the burning of weed.

Air firefighting forces were deployed to fight 130 wildfires, mostly in Šibenik-Knin County (49), Split-Dalmatia County (43), and Zadar County (29).

Firefighting planes had a total of 5,339 flights in the total duration of 846 hours and they unloaded close to 25,000 tonnes of water. The pilotless air system Orbiter 3 went on reconnaissance missions 14 times.

Firefighting forces were also deployed in neighboring and Mediterranean countries, twice in Bosnia and Herzegovina and once in Greece and Turkey. They had a total of 376 flights in the duration of 102 hours, unloading more than 2,000 tonnes of water.

This year firefighters used 1,181 vehicles more than last season and the average age of the vehicles was 20.6 years or three years less.


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Primorje-Gorski Kotar: No Open Fires From Today Until 31 October 2021

June the 1st, 2021 - In Primorje-Gorski Kotar County as of today until the 31st of October this year, it is illegal to light a fire out in the open. The same law has been in place further south in Dalmatia since the 1st of May.

As Morski writes, a ban on lighting open fires will take effect in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County from today, and the ban will be valid until October the 31st, 2021. Very high fines will be handed out without mercy to violators. The police note that open fires can be approved only on the basis of a written request that may or may not be approved by the competent fire service for any given area within Primorje-Gorski Kotar.

Here's what is forbidden out in the open fire-wise from June the 1st to October the 31st, 2021:

- The burning of rubbish, weeds, paper, dry grass and shrubs, bushes, dense forest vegetation, straw and corn, old branches and leaves generated during the felling of trees, plants, throwing matches, cigarette butts and other burning and glowing substances down in open areas, except in places where the determination over that is held by the legal entity that manages or owns such an open space.

- Improvised kilns, other open fireboxes and barbecues/grills used in places not designated for that purpose by the legal entities which are in charge of/manage such forests and forested areas and land, or by the competent body of the local and regional self-government unit.

An open space is considered to be a piece of agricultural land, protected parts of nature, forests, forested land, land in the immediate vicinity of a forest, land on which buildings are being used for both public and business purposes, the coastal zones, landfills, city parks and even in backyards.

The conditions under which lighting a fire out in the open is permitted in Primorje-Gorski Kotar:

Barbecues/grills done in a metal or fireproof housing and improvised barbecues placed in backyards in populated areas aren't considered open fires under this rule. These grills can be used if there is at least a metre and a half of cleared land around them, and with the obligatory installation of a fire extinguisher or a container with the appropriate amount of water in it to put out any accidental fires.

To use improvised fireboxes, it is necessary to clean the surrounding land from all combustible substances within a radius of three metres from the edge of the grill with the installation of an initial fire extinguisher or a water container as described above.

Penalties for those who violate this law:

In the event that a fire isn't reported, a misdemeanor report will follow, and fines for violators of this rule range from 500 to 1,000 kuna for a natural person, from 2,000 to 10,000 kuna for a legal entity, and from 1,000 to 5,000 kuna for a natural person who owns an obrt.

For those who intentionally cause fires in Primorje-Gorski Kotar, the penalties are even more rigorous. A natural person who causes a fire on purpose will be fined from 15,000 to 150,000 kuna or imprisoned for up to 60 days, and in the case of a fire being caused out of negligence, the fine will range from 2,000 to 15,000 kuna depending on the specifics in any given situation.

A legal entity that causes a fire by default will be fined from 15,000 to 150,000 kuna, and a responsible person in a legal entity will be fined anywhere between 2,000 and 15,000 kuna.

Possible causes of a fire

One tiny little moment without enough attention paid is enough to cause damage with very far-reaching consequences. Experts have warned of some of the possible causes of a fire:

- Various appliances that use electricity, gas or heating oil in use, as well as their improper handling, poor maintenance and malfunctions can cause fires with significant material damage.

- Before going on holiday or taking a trip and being away from your apartment/house, it is necessary to check and disable all sources that can cause a fire (electricity, gas, etc.),

- The disposal of flammable matches or cigarette butts in a plastic or wicker waste bin or in another container made from flammable material.

- The throwing out of cigarette butts from a vehicle window while driving.

- Leaving lighters within reach of sunlight inside a vehicle.

- Children playing with matches or a lighter, or trying to hide from adults by smoking in hidden locations.

- Decorating a space with lamps and candles, especially during holidays and celebrations.

- Lighting a campfire.

- Having a grill/barbecue in open nature.

As stated above, this rule which is set to come into force today in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has been in force in Dalmatia since the 1st of May, 2021.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Fires in Dubravica Near Skradin Finally Extinguished After Four Days

While the situation is far from what it was during summer 2017 on the Dalmatian coast, Croatia has so far seen 5,300 fires before the end of July, which is more than were reported during the whole of 2018.

The fire which broke out in Dubravica close to Skradin in Šibenik-Knin County has now finally been extinguished, after four long days of fighting the steadily progressing flames.

As SibenikIN/VB writes on the 11th of August, 2019, the potentially devastating fire which broke out and very quickly took hold in the Dubravica area near Skradin in a thick pine forest on Thursday afternoon, and then broke out once again on Friday was finally completely extinguished this morning at 09:32, according to the Operations and Communications Centre of the Šibenik police.

The inaccessible, wild terrain and the dense pine forests made it extremely easy for the fire to spread among the dry wood and leaves under the heat of the sun, but also made it very difficult for firefighters to do their work properly on foot, so yesterday, an airtractor made sure to properly soak the burned out area in the hills near Skradin so as to prevent any further spreading of the flames.

The Croatian Air Force were called in to assist the situation on Thursday and Friday as well, with about thirty hours of flight time and about 370 water bombs, or about 2000 tons of water, dropped on the burned area.

On the first day, the fire was extinguished by four firefighting aircraft, while on Friday, six Croatian Air Force firefighting aircraft were involved in controlling and extinguishing the flames.

According to initial estimates, more than 7.5 hectares of land were burned, and members of local PUPs and DVDs and members of the Šibenik SEC participated in the firefight.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more information on fires in Croatia, and much more.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

VIDEOS: Fire Near Šibenik Forces Motorway Closure, More than 120 Firefighters at Scene

Just after 1:30 pm on Saturday, a fire broke out in the Dubrava area near Šibenik which forced 38 firefighters to the ground assisted by the Air Force, said the Fire Department of the Šibenik-Knin County. Shortly after, a second fire broke out which spread to the motorway, reports Index.hr and T.portal.hr on July 27, 2019.

The fire brigade commanded Croatian Roads (HAC) close the motorway, which happened just after 4 pm. The highway was first closed in both directions between the junctions of Šibenik and Vrpolje, and around 5 pm, a larger part of the motorway was closed, from Skradin to Vrpolje.

According to the latest information from Šibenik, more than 120 firefighters, six Canadairs and three air tractors are at the scene. Around 6 pm, the fire reached the toll booths and approached homes. The strong southern wind (jugo) is giving firefighters difficulty containing the fire. 

As you can imagine, there is plenty of traffic. Along the entire Adriatic highway in Šibenik area, a kilometer-long column of cars has formed thanks to the motorway closure. 

Around 6:45 pm, the border forces of the Croatian Army arrived at the scene, and the entire Civil Protection System is on its feet.

According to Šibenski.portal, the fire reached Mihaljević and is over one hundred meters long, maybe a kilometer, and cannot be controlled at this time.

“The situation is such that we have 85 firefighters on the ground, 25 soldiers, we have raised the State Intervention Unit Split, and the police are very helpful in the traffic situation since the Šibenik-Drniš road is closed and since 6:27 pm the highway opened. The situation is such that the houses are not endangered, that is, at one point, some fifty houses were endangered north of the Garden Center in Dubrava. The fire is not under control, but the state of the houses is under control. Three Canadians, three air tractors, 35 vehicles. The firefighters are the alpha and omega of the fire, and we, from the Civil Protection Council, are involved as needed and in a situation where the fire would threaten the houses and when evacuation would be needed. Then we are legally responsible for logistics in terms of accommodation, transportation, and nutrition. All this is not necessary at present, but we are ready and the situation is changing rapidly,” says Danijel Mileta, the Deputy Mayor of Šibenik and the president of the Civil Protection Director.

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DVD Brodarica-Krapanj Facebook

Šibenski.portal reported at 7:33 pm that the fire near the fast road Šibenik-Drniš broke out again. Namely, the fire brigade had been redirected to fighting the critical points near homes and after that part of the fire was partially under control, they returned to the location where the fire erupted again.

Šibenski.portal reported that the fire in southern Dubrava is the biggest fire this year, where seven firefighting planes from PP NOS OSRH and 26 members of Croatian army have been engaged, and in addition to strength in the air, the fire will also be fought by an unmanned Orbiter aircraft.

This is also the first time the Croatian Army's ground forces have been engaged in this year's firefighting season, according to the Ministry of Defense (MORH).

"We are giving it our all, but the fire on the front line is big. It is difficult to approach, and the wind makes its own challenges. There is a lot of smoke, and beside it is a pine forest that is quite dense. We will stay in the dark and hope to stop the fire,” said Colonel Vlahović.

For the latest updates on Croatia's roads, check the HAK website

More soon…

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