(UPDATE) Inferno in Dalmatia: Split Fires Put Out, Still Burning in Strožanac and Podstrana

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Large fires broke out on multiple locations in Dalmatia yesterday, July 16, 2017. Firemen are currently battling blazes in multiple Split neighbourhoods.


Here is the course of events:

10:40 –  “I want to thank the firefighters, members of the Army, the police, DUZS, the citizens who protected homes, and members of Torcida,” said PM Plenkovic at the beginning of the meeting addressing Crisis Staff in Split. 

09:45 – Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, consisting of the 93rd Air Force Base of the Croatian Air Force and the barracks “Colonel Mirko Vukušić” from Zemunika, were battling the fires in Split from 6 am this morning 

Two Canadair CL-415 and two Airtractor AT-802 were sent out as a priority to put out the fires in the most affected areas.

09:28 – Mladen Bartulović, Mayor of Podstrana: Currently the fire is under control, but it will probably take the whole day to put the fire out, if not longer. 

09:24 – Split is protected and all suburbs were saved. The superhuman efforts of the firefighters, locals and Torcida extinguished the fire in record time to save the homes in Strožanac, Kila, Mravince and other villages. Early this morning, PM Plenković arrived in Split whose assistance remains to be seen.

09:15 – The fire that raged on Monday from Omiš to Split injured 80 people, mostly firefighters, according to information from the director of Medical Emergencies in the County, Lea Luetic. None suffered serious injuries. 

09:03 – The situation is much better than yesterday. If there are no unforeseen circumstances, the entire western part and part of the eastern area will be contained. This information was announced at a meeting of the Civic Guard of Split, headed by mayor Andro Krstulović Opara.

Firefighters have enough assistance and help has arrived from all over the country. There are members of the army and HGSS involved so there is no need to engage citizens, especially not self-initiating.

08:55 – At the center open at the Spaladium Arena, 11 people spent the night, 8 of whom were foreigners.

08:50 – It is almost impossible to order any kind of taxi transport in Split this morning. Radio Taxi, Go Green, and even Uber are unavailable.

08:30 – Prime Minister Plenković arrives in Split and will soon hold a meeting with Crisis Staff. Apart from the PM, the director of the State Protection and Rescue Administration, Dragan Lozančić, is also in Split. 

08:15 – Miroslav Rade, a commander from Karlovac, said: ”If the wind picks back up we will have a big problem.”

“The front line is a few kilometers away, a day and night of work is ahead of us to preserve this area,” reported N1.

7:00 The fire department in Srinjine, Žrnovnica, Podstrana, Strožanac and Split has a total of 21 firefighters and 384 people putting out the fires, accompanied by 102 vehicles, Hina reports from Split’s Fire and Rescue Center.

In addition to the many firefighters, soldiers and citizens fighting the blaze in Split and the surrounding areas, the members of Torcida, who have been fighting tirelessly throughout the night, will be joined today by fans from Zagreb, Rijeka and Osijek.

Many homes have burned, some are charred, as well as many commercial buildings and cars. Part of the population had to leave their homes that were in danger of the fire, and accommodation was provided by the many people of Split who received them in their homes.

The sky over Split is still grey and unobtrusive. Ash is flying in the air and it is hard to breathe. The wind is no longer blowing, so in cooperation with Canadairs, the fire could soon be put under control.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic will arrive in Split to hold a working meeting with the Minister of Defense, Damir Krsticevic and Interior Minister Davor Božinović. President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović announced her arrival in Split and will shorten her visit to Salzburg due to the fires of Dalmatia.

6:17 Commander of the Split Fire Brigade, Ivan Kovacevic, reported on the situation in Strožanac:

“Most of the forces are here and last night we had to fight to protect the homes, but we managed to, and now the fire moves further away and no more homes are threatened. As for the wind, it seems to us that it will be favorable this morning and as soon as the Canadairs can take off,  they will. Tugare is still burning, but nothing is compromised in regards to the facilities and people. It is currently the most critical on the south side of the Perun and Strožanac hills.” 

6:00 Due to the fire, the following roads are closed:

The Solin-Klis (DC1) highway in both directions;

County road Tromilla – Šibenik (ŽC3277);

County road Žrnovnica – Srinjine (ŽC6142) 

County road Mravinci – Žrnovnica (ŽC6270).

The county road Konjevrate-Unešić (ŽC6092) has one lane open

5:10 It has been estimated that about 4,500 hectares have been burnt so far.

“We do not know how to keep going, for now, the situation is a bit better, but with the wind you never know, this is a catastrophe. In my 36 years of experience, I have never seen a fire burn like this. It seems like this will go on for days,” said one firefighter to Hina. 

4:44 The firefighters in Podstrana and Strožanac will have a sleepless night. The fire is still near homes. 

4:20 It seems like the fire is calming down.

3:55 Tonight, the whole of Podstrana will not sleep. Some are out fighting the fire, some are soaking their greenhouses, many are in front of their homes watching the development of the fire in fear on the hill above them. Torcida’s support for Podstrana came in large numbers, however, there is no equipment for them. There was a group in front of a house where the flames were just one hundred meters away, breaking branches from an olive tree. They literally wanted to fight the fire. 

The homes were sheltered by firefighters from Rijeka. It was very tense. It all depended on whether the wind would force the fire back to the homes. Firefighters drifted through the thick pine woods with water, and the fire spread from the west to the east, and further east. The hopes were that the wind would not intensify and that the Canadairs would finally bring this to an end. 

3:40 Firefighters managed to protect one of the endangered houses. 

3:37 They are defending houses that are nearest to the burning woods. There are plenty of people, maybe a couple of hundred. People are moving from house to house, water is being passed from hand to hand. There are firefighters with more vehicles.

3:35 The fire continues to burn in the Strožanac area, firefighters have been very busy all night.

3:30 Firefighters have not put out the forest fires, they focused on protecting the homes, Radio Dalmacija reports.

3:27 A reporter from Radio Split explained that there was a lot of deterioration:

“It was fine, but then the wind sharpened and the fiery line began to carry the way to Podstrana. Firefighters protected all of the houses on the way to Žrnovnica as much as they could, but there were apocalyptic scenes. At one point, for a period of about 20 minutes, we thought it would calm down, but then the road to the second part of Strožanac and Podstrana started to wear. People were armed with bottles of water, shovels, rakes, hoes,” he said.

3:18 The fire continues to scorch everything in sight.

3:11 A reporter from Radio Split reports from Podstrana that the wind has strengthened and the situation does not look good.

“People are in the streets, waiting for the epilogue, they’re all on their feet, walking in the streets, no one is asleep, they are all armed, armed with all the living resources they have to fight it,” said the reporter.

3:00 The hot wind blows, changing the direction of the fire. In some areas, the flames are rising around 15 meters into the air.

2:53 From the northern part of Croatia, predominantly from Zagreb, 250 firefighters and 50 fire trucks arrived at the Split area to help the overwhelmed firefighters in the field.

2:48 Sirens heard, water tanks are coming. The road to Žrnovnica is closed. Homes in Podstrana are under threat, hundreds of people are out there trying to help.

02:15 Firefighters with superhuman efforts saved houses in Strožanac, but the fire is spreading to Podstrana.

01:39 Several houses in Strožanac, the area closer to Žrnovnica, are surrounded by fire, reports Slobodna Dalmacija. 

01:30 All fires in Split have been successfully put out. In Strožanac, where the fire is still ablaze, people are not in danger and the houses have been defended, reports HRT.

01:10 Strožanac and Podstrana are currently being evacuated.The wind is changing direction, which makes the situation more difficult. The road to Žrnovnica is blocked. The eastern leg of the fire came near the houses. People are on the streets. The other leg of the fire is spreading towards Žrnovnica, but fortunately still not close to homes. Firefighters from Zagreb arrived to help out. Kučina and part of Kila are still without water supply, which is expected to be restored within several hours. 

00:50 The president of the Croatian Fire Department, Ante Sanader, told HTV that there is no need for evacuation because the town, with the help of firefighters coming from other parts of Croatia (Zagreb, Karlovac and Ogulin), has enough strength to defend itself against the raging fires. Sanader also added that the intervention of the firefighters was rapid and that they were acting according to plans, but faced extreme difficulty due to the inaccessibility of the area and very strong bura wind, which caused the fires to spread faster, reports Večernji List. 

00:30 Red Cross staff has prepared beds for some 250 people inside Spaladium Arena in case of evacuation.

00:00 Most of the fires in the wider Split area are now under control. Firefighters are still struggling to bring the blaze under control in Dubrava, Tugare and Perun. The fire which broke out at the old barracks in Dračevac and came close to few houses in Bilice has also been put under control. The south side of the hill above Strožanac is currently burning, slowly coming close to Strožanac and Podstrana. Citizens are warned not to go near petrol stations on the roads near the affected areas. 

23:00 Residents of Split are advised to avoid driving and leaving their houses, to close their windows and blinds, and to use as little running water as they can.

After the initiative of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, the Volunteer Fire Departments from Zagreb announced that 50 fire trucks and 250 firemen are being sent to Split to help battle the blaze. They are expected to arrive to the most critical sites before dawn, reports Novi list. Rijeka, Krk island and Opatija are sending 16 firefighters to Žrnovnica.

22:30 The firefighting commander of Split-Dalmatia County Dražen Glavina, who spent the whole day out in the field, stated the situation in Split is under control, as well as that in Smokovik and on the road to Klis. He said that more than 300 firemen are out fighting the fire, joined by around 200 volunteers, reports Jutarnji list.

The situation in Karepovac neighbourhood is under control, while Mejaši and Kila were successfully defended from fire that was redirected in order to save the populated areas.

21:00 City Center One and Mall of Split have been evacuated after the smoke started to fill the buildings, coming in through the air vents, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Solin, Ninčevići and Rupotina are left without electricity, same as the Split neighbourhoods of Brda and Ravne Njive. There is no running water in Solin as well.

The night is falling, wind is getting stronger, Canadairs are flying back to base due to low visibility.

20:30 City Center One in Split has been closed down. Fire came up to a 50-metre distance from the gas station Lukoil near Solin, at the entrance to Split. Readers are calling in to report they’re seeing flashes and hearing explosions, reports Slobodna Dalmacija. The highway is closed for traffic.

19:10 Radio Dalmacija reported that seven separate blazes merged into a single, 15 km long ring of fire. Žrnovnica is currently being evacuated, multiple elders have been taken to safety by the police and the rescue service (GSS). The south, north and east sides of Žrnovnica are set ablaze, and the northern leg of the fire is spreading towards Kučine and Mravinci. 400 firemen and 100 trucks are currently on site.

People are calling the media, crying in panic and asking for help.  A Facebook group has been opened where people are offering their homes to those in need. If you live in the wider Split area and can put someone up for the night, click here and offer accommodation. 

19:09 Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County Blaženko Boban stated the situation is apocalyptic, but that he hopes things will calm down overnight. He added the Canadairs managed to put out a fire on Perun hill on Monday afternoon, preventing the blaze from spreading to Podstrana and Dugi Rat, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

18:50 The residents of Privor village are running away to safety. The road under the St. Anthony chapel is on fire. People are helping each other to escape the inferno, but there are some older residents who don’t want to leave their homes. The fire is spreading in a speed of 1 metre per minute, and reached the first houses around 18:59.

18:30 Residents of Žrnovnica confirmed the fire has reached their village. “It’s over, the fire has reached our houses. We’re being evacuated, but literally can’t see anything from all the smoke, I’m afraid, I’m terribly afraid”, said a local who decided to leave her home after a whole day of fighting the blaze.

A couple of minutes later, power was shut down in the whole of Žrnovnica. The flames are getting closer to the local Fire Department’s seat.

As previously stated, Minister Krstičević announced the arrival of the army. Locals have commented on the rocket base having good fire safety measures and being isolated in order to be protected from fire. However, according to certain residents, there’s another hazard on the horizon. Siniša Marin from the local council said it’ll be a problem if the fire spreads towards Korešnica, the location of another army base with an access road dotted with landmines. If the flames reach that area, it might end in a catastrophe.

18:00 One line of fire spread westward, above Korešnica and Kučine, burning down the pine forest. Here’s a video, courtesy of Slobodna Dalmacija:

17:45 Residents of Žrnovnica have been coming to the local Volunteer Fire Deparment, asking to be given equipment so they can help fight the blaze. “My house is on fire and I can’t put it out! The flames are 50 metres high, and they send two firetrucks. I make my living by training people in fire suppression all around the world. Give us equipment!”, said an unnamed local, but the firemen have to turn them all away as they just don’t have any more equipment to give out. More forces on the ground are desperately needed.

17:30 Minister Krstičević confirmed the rocket base in Žrnovnica is surrounded by fire. He also confirmed the army forces have been dispatched to Split, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

17:03 Ten army trucks departed for the most critical sites to help the firemen and the locals.


Due to heavy traffic which our server is struggling to cope with, we had to break down the updates into multiple articles. Please click here for earlier events. 


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