Protected forest in Romanian mountains keeps burning while authorities struggle to put out fire

A protected forest in Romania’s Bucegi mountains, at some 1,700 m altitude, has been burning since the middle of July, but it took authorities more than a week to learn about the fire and intervene. Two helicopters from the Interior Minister will try to put out the fire on Monday (July 23), with two more helicopters set to join the mission on Tuesday.

The emergency task force in Prahova county, where the forest has been smouldering since July 15, asked for two emergency helicopters on Sunday (July 22 ), but neither of the two helicopters that should have been fit to help was functional. One was sent for repairs in another country and the other one was missing a part.

Fire started after a lightning struck at 1,700 meters altitude in the Bucegi massif, in a forest area that belongs to the Royal House of Romania and is managed by the state company Romsilva. The Natural Park Bucegi representative announced the fire on July 15, a week after it started. The fire slowly expanded over some 1,500 sqm, mostly in areas inaccessible to firefighters. The affected forest is included in a protected natural area and in a local natural reservation.

So far, over 100 people – firefighters, gendarmes, mountain rescue teams and volunteers – have been trying to localize and put out the fire. A private airplane was supposed to intervene on Sunday evening, trying to prevent the fire from further expanding, but the mission was delayed, as the plane needed special approval.

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