Albania’s wildfire season appears to have started early this year as amid soaring temperatures, multiple fires have been reported around the country, highlighting again the woeful under-preparedness from authorities.
In Krasta e Kruje, more than 50 hectares of forest have been destroyed with just two fire engines available to fight the blaze. There are also large fires reported in Lezhe, particularly Torrovica and Mal-Kolaj.
Other fires have been reported throughout the country, exacerbated by temperatures of up to 40 degrees and moderate wind.
Interior Minister Niko Peleshi said that all fires had been extinguished, and none were active throughout the country. He also claimed that the situation is better than this time last year.
“All five fires that today involved different areas of the country have been extinguished thanks to the intervention and dedication of local and central government employees.
Despite the high temperatures, we currently have no active outbreak in the country, a situation incomparable to last year’s period. At the same time, all civil defense structures at the local and central level remain on alert,” wrote Peleshi.
In fact, last year’s fire season started on the 20th of July and lasted until September, according to data from the IFRC, ECHO, and ReliefWeb.
The government has been repeatedly criticised for failing to prepare for an event that occurs every year and is expected to get worse. Despite having invested in a small fleet of helicopters that can fight the fire from the air, none are in working order. This leaves the country having to rely on the resources of countries such as Greece and Italy to put out serious blazes.
In 2021, two people died due to wildfires.