Fires rage in southern Serbia: Helicopters used in firefighting effort, Russian aircraft arriving
In addition to Stara Mountai, fires also broke out in the Pcinj District, Trgoviste, Vranje, Prokuplje
In southern Serbia, fires are burning on several fronts. On Stara Mountain, a fire has raged without subsiding since Sunday, and as of this morning, more than 200 people, firefighters, gendarmes, Srbija Sume workers and citizens have been engaged in fighting it. The population and property are not endangered by the fire.
Inaccessible terrain and high altitude are making putting out the fire more difficult, because it's impossible to reach with fire trucks the area where the woods and vegetation are burning.
Fires have also affected the Pcinj District. About 500 hectares of low vegetation and trees are burning near Trgoviste, two buildings have been burned down, two people have been evacuated, and an emergency situation has been declared in this municipality, while the fire is spreading in a part of Vidojevica Mountain near Prokuplje as well as above Vranje.
According to the Interior Ministry, these fires are not endangering the population. More than 130 firefighters from Vranje, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Valjevo, Sremska Mitrovica, Nis and Leskovac have all been deployed. A MUP helicopter unit has also been engaged in the firefighting effort in the Pcinj District. Currently, fires are being extinguished in 4 locations - Crnostica, Crveni Grad, Bozica (between Trgoviste and Bosilegrad) and Cestelin above Vranje.
Locals from the village of Soderce, which is closest to Cestelin, say that the fire has been extinguished, but that there is still smoke in the air and that burning leaves are flying everywhere, Juzne Vesti is reporting.
On Vidojevica Mountain, near the Prokuplje village of Vidovaca, a fire broke out on Sunday afternoon and after being localized, it erupted again yesterday. Teams of firefighters have been on the ground since this morning and as reported by Juzne Vesti, there is no danger to households for the time being, but the fire has affected a larger area of forest and low vegetation. The fire is estimated to have affected about 100 hectares.
A Russian plane arriving to help
Since Stara Mountain has been burning since Sunday, Serbia has asked for help from Russia, according to Predrag Maric, head of the Emergency Sector.
"An official letter has been sent to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia for the deployment of the largest firefighter aircraft for forest fires, Ilyushin 76. It's the best Russian firefighting aircraft, perhaps the best in the world," said Maric.
He explained that the aircraft carries 42 tons of water and has 10 crew members.
"In the next day or two, we expect the plane to come to Serbia and engage in aerial firefighting, which will make the job much easier for our people," said Maric.
Video: Eastern Serbia in flames, firefighters battle wildfires