After a season of high temperatures and drought, dozens of wildfires continue to rage across the Western Balkans, with Serbia hit the hardest.
By Lily Lynch for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 20/09/12
Fierce winds and difficult terrain have hindered efforts to extinguish the fires in the Western Balkans. [Reuters]
While a number of wildfires have been mostly contained by teams of firefighters, the military and volunteers, fires continue to blaze across Serbia and the Western Balkans, in what has been an exceptionally dry year punctuated by extreme heat waves.
The two parts of Serbia hit hardest by the fires have been Tara National Park, a popular tourist destination, and the area around the central Serbian town of Cacak.
Dragan Sreckovic, a monitoring and evaluation co-ordinator at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, was on holiday at Tara National Park when the fires first started.
"In the morning at 5 am we were awoken by the smell of fire and something burning and we were really scared, my wife and I, but we didn't want to panic, " Sreckovic told SETimes. "Later at 7 or 8 [am], when we went for breakfast, we heard there was a small fire in front of our hotel."
Wildfires also raged in the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Bratunac region of eastern Bosnia, helicopters of the EU's BiH peacekeeping force were deployed to help bring wildfires under control. Many local volunteers also assisted.
Wildfires in Southeast Europe typically end with the start of the rainy season in the fall.