Albanian Forest Fires Started to Make Way for Construction Say Senior Officials

Deputy Prime Minister Erion Brace and Director of Civil Emergencies Haki Cako have said they believe some of the fires currently ravaging Albania were started deliberately so the land could be used to build apartments and tourist resorts.

Brace said that the fire in Godull-Seman should be investigated as a serious crime after suspicions that the land would be developed.

“Those responsible will be prosecuted and any project of buildings on the burned forest will never happen,” he wrote on Facebook.

Cako said that in areas where fires have broken out, there are personal interests of businessmen that are being hidden. He said these interests include turning the land into tourist resorts. In an interview with Report TV, Cako called on authorities to investigate the arson and identify the people who intend to set up resorts in these areas.

In recent weeks, a spate of forest fires have burned across the country. Fires in Lezha, Mirdita, Seman, Shkodra, Gjirokastra, Tepelene, Devoll, Gramsh and various other areas have burned with minimal efforts to bring them under control.It’s estimated that over the last seven months there have been 329 fires, with over half happening in July. In total, some 598 hectares have been destroyed including olive groves and orchards.

According to the Law on Forests, adopted by the Assembly in April 2020, Article 5/7 states that areas of burned forest cannot have their usage or designation changed. This means that construction or development of burnt forest land is at least technically prohibited by law.

This morning, a group of civilian volunteers organised transport to areas affected by the fire, in order to assist in putting out the fires.