Croatian firefighters struggle to control blaze near Split

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2017 10:13 AM

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatian firefighters battled for a second day to control a forest fire along the Adriatic coast that has damaged or destroyed buildings in villages around the city of Split.

Local media reported that the blaze, which started shortly after midnight, has spread across 20 km and threatened the villages of Srinjine, Sitno Gornje and Sitno Donje. One death has been reported, although it's not clear whether the cause was a heart attack or smoke inhalation.

Two houses were completely burnt. A local church was saved when firefighters extinguished flames heading towards the building.

Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said some 100 people from the Croatian army joined the firefighters in the village of Zrnovnica, east of Split, where several elderly people were evacuated from an area covered by heavy smoke.

Zrnovnica is also the site of an underground army missile compound, but Krsticevic said he did not expect it to suffer any damage.

According to the state television, the blaze is nearing the eastern suburbs of Split, where the army also went to help out the firefighters.

State news agency Hina reported that electricity and water supplies have been hit in the affected area. Several local roads were closed.

Some 400 firefighters are struggling to bring the blaze under control in an area largely covered by pine forest and scrubland. Smaller fires are also being fought elsewhere in the southern Croatian region of Dalmatia.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic, editing by Larry King)