LJUBLJANA, July 20 (Xinhua) — The authorities in Slovenia on Wednesday evacuated four villages in the west of the country close to the border with Italy as a forest fire was raging in the area caused by the severe drought and heat wave that has gripped Europe in recent days.
The firemen have been battling the blaze since Sunday and had until Wednesday managed to keep it away from the villages. According to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), around 600 firemen have been deployed in the area along with five helicopters and two aircraft. Changing winds and thick smoke hinder their efforts.
According to Radio Slovenia, five firemen have already needed medical attention, but no casualties have been reported. Neighbouring Italy, Croatia and Austria have offered help.
The inhabitants of two more villages have been put on evacuation alert.
Defense Minister Marjan Sarec told reporters that this fire is the worst Slovenia has experienced in 20 years and that the army is helping firemen with all means possible.
According to the Slovenian Environment Agency, temperatures will continue to rise until Saturday, when they will peak at 37 degrees Celsius, up from 35 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.
Regional water utility Rizanski Vodovod Koper last week banned showering on the beach, washing cars, filling swimming pools and watering gardens to save water. Enditem