Italy and Greece Help Fighting Fires
Albanian Daily News
Published August 4, 2017
Massive wildfires which have raged in Albania for weeks reached a critical point on Thursday, forcing Albanian authorities to seek support from Greece and Italy. Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati asked Greece and Italy to send airplanes as it is the only way to help Albanian firefighters battle fires and put flames under control, the Albanian ministry informed in a press release Thursday. It has been learned that they have agreed to provide assistance to Albania, while the Foreign and Interior Ministries confirmed that a Greek airplane has started the operation for extinguishing flames in the southern part of the country.
Albania's Civil Emergency Directorate said on Thursday that fires have been reported at 24 mainly mountainous locations in Tirana, Vlora, Dibra, Elbasan and Berat over the past 24 hours. The army is helping with the firefighting operation, and more than 360 troops and dozens of vehicles have been deployed.
General Director of Civil Emergencies Shemsi Prençi said that two helicopters from Italy and Greece are expected to put out the flames in four critical spots where the flames have continued for several days. Director Prençi underlined that the situation remains critical in Llogara National Park, Elbasan and Dajti Mountain in Tirana.
"The situation of fires is of a high intensity. There are 17-25 active wildfires. Most critical wildfires are in Dukat, Llogara, in the Elbasan region and on Dajti Mountain. Firefighters, police, and army are engaged in four of the most problematic hotspots. We are actually expecting an aircraft from Greece and one from Italy. As a result of the 24-hour engagement, wildfire in Dukat is under control. The firefighting continues in Llogara, Dajti and Elbasan," Prençi says.
He emphasized that despite the critical situation the country is not under conditions to declare the state of emergency. Meantime, the Armed Forces continue the fight against wildfires blazing up all the country due to scorching August temperatures.
While following the situation from close in Krasta, Elbasan, Interior Minister Dritan Demiraj said that there will be tough penalties for anyone who intentionally set any of the fires. "Intentionally setting a fire setting endangers national security and those responsible will be harshly punished by the law," Demiraj said. The Minister of Interior expressed his concern about the situation created by the fires. He said that the armed forces are working to take control of the situation and calls on everyone to help to save people.
Around 360 military forces, 19 means, 13 fire engines as well as ambulances have been engaged during the last 24 hours in Tirana, Vlora and Elbasan. Civil Emergencies were assisted by military forces to put out wildfires in Dajti Mountain, in Tirana, Dukat, in Vlore district and Kraste hill in Elbasan. 190 military officials and 15 fire extinguishing means and ambulances were part of these operations. In addition, around 130 military back up forces are on standby to intervene at any time necessary.