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Wildfires Spread Across the Balkans
By Veselin Zhelev, Associated Press, August 24, 2000

Bulgaria sent soldiers Thursday to put out dozens ofwildfires triggered by a heat wave that set off blazes across the Balkans from Croatia to Greece. Bulgaria's government said fires broke out in 69 areas in the past 24 hours, and 26 still burned. Authorities said seven people have died in Bulgaria since the wildfiresbegan three months ago, fueled by temperatures that topped 104 degrees onsome days and winds sweeping the area in August. Bulgaria's government has said it would seek international financial aid to offset wildfire losses that have exceeded $19 million. The fires havedestroyed almost 9,000 acres of forest and farmland. In the worst-hit area near Chirpan, 110 miles southeast of the capital,Sofia, 2,223 acres of forest burned for a sixth day, and local authorities declared a state of emergency.

In Croatia, fires burned in 11 areas. Some 535 wildfires have destroyednearly 50,300 acres of forests and underbrush this year, said Petar Jurjevic of the Croatian forest inspection agency. Residents of Metkovic, a town of 12,000 that is 30 miles from Dubrovnik, were alerted to prepare for a possible evacuation as fires advance. More than 400 firefighters, assisted by planes and helicopters, battled ablaze that has consumed about 7,400 acres of grass, underbrush and forestnear Promina, in the coastal region of Dalmatia. On the northern Adriatic, fires threatened a shipyard near the port of Rijeka. In Greece, hundreds of firefighters assisted by aircraft and helicopterstried to stamp out about 30 fires on the mainland and on the Aegean Sea islands of Naxos and Chios. Authorities declared a state of emergency in the southern province ofArcadia, site of 10 blazes. Fires in Greece have destroyed 312,711 acres of forest and scrub. ... Elsewhere in Serbia, Yugoslav army troops and helicopters helped firefighters and villagers battle a 3-day-old blaze engulfing forests and peaks of Stara Mountain near the central Serbian city of Nis.