ZAGREB • Infernos are raging on both sides of the Atlantic, with firefighters battling to douse wildfires on the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Montenegro yesterday as blazes also broke out in Italy, France and Portugal, as well as in the United States and Canada.
About a dozen wildfires broke out late on Sunday in the villages surrounding Split, Croatia's second-largest city and a popular tourist destination.
Then, late on Monday, fire spread to the suburbs where a shopping centre had to be evacuated and several cars were burned. The city waste dump caught fire, covering the town with thick, black smoke. But the blaze was brought under control overnight.
"It seems that the worst is behind us. Split has been saved," Mayor Andro Krstulovic Opara told HRT state-run television.
In neighbouring Montenegro, forest fires forced the evacuation of more than a hundred campers on the Lustica peninsula.
The cause of the fires in the two countries at the height of the tourist season is still not known.
In Italy, the authorities said a blaze in a pine forest at a popular park outside Rome, now under control, was deliberately set and that a suspect has been arrested. But fires continued to burn in southern Italy in parts of the Calabria region and in the outskirts of Naples where one person died on Monday after falling off his roof while looking at a forest fire.
Winds, high temperatures and dry conditions prompted more fires in southern France and the Mediterranean island of Corsica. More than 450 firefighters battled a forest fire at Castagniers, north of Nice, which has destroyed some 100ha.
On Europe's Atlantic coast, nearly 1,400 firemen, supported by water-bombing planes and helicopters, have battled three major blazes in northern Portugal since Sunday.
Wildfires sweeping across British Columbia, the world's biggest exporter of softwood lumber, sent timber prices surging and forced the closure of two copper mines in the western Canadian province. Almost 40,000 Canadians have fled their homes as British Columbia faced its largest emergency evacuation ever, officials said.
Canada scrambled thousands of firemen and hundreds of aircraft from across the country to tackle raging infernos in the western province, and even drafted firefighters from Australia, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.
And US weather forecasters yesterday warned more than 800,000 residents in the west to be ready to evacuate as windy, dry conditions threaten to stoke blazes.
A red flag warning was issued for southern Oregon, northern California and northern Nevada, the National Weather Service said. More than a half a dozen fires have started up over the last two days in California.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG