Wind, landmines complicate fire fighting in Bosnia

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By ELDAR EMRIC, Associated Press

KONJIC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Heavy winds, steep hills and landmines were complicating firefighters' efforts to battle four blazes in southern Bosnia on Friday, including one close to an ammunition factory, authorities said.

The flames near the factory have already set off explosions in a minefield in the area. The other three blazes are on steep hills hard for firefighting teams to access — and one is creeping up on Glavicina, a village close to the town of Konjic. The strong winds, meanwhile, hampered military helicopters from aiding the firefighting effort.

No one has been reported injured in the fires so far.

Husein Hodzic, deputy head of the Konjic civil protection agency, said the rough winds had turned two wildfires into four overnight. The firefighters have largely been relegated to battling the edges of the blazes, trying to keep them from reaching homes and buildings.

Villagers were trying to help the effort, but the terrain made things hard, the official said. "These cliffs here are burning, rocks are falling off, trees are rolling down — we can't risk the safety of our people," Hodzic said.

Helicopters of the Bosnian Army as well as of the European Union Forces tried to help early Friday morning but the wind forced them to land.

This summer has been one of the hottest on record in Bosnia, with virtually no rain for two months in the south. Land mines left over from Bosnia's 1992-95 war further complicate efforts to deal with some wildfires.

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