Forest Fires in Slovenia: Austria Provides Aid

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: July 26, 2022; 09:35 ♦ (Vindobona)

Central Europe is currently under a fire risk because of the heat and low rainfall. It is also the case in Slovenia. Austria's neighbor has experienced fires on more than 500 hectares in the last few days and has called on European assistance.

A total of 2 helicopters were provided. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Gerd Pachauer

Due to the current heat in Europe and the low rainfall, there is currently an acute fire risk in Central Europe. This is also the case in Slovenia. Austria's small neighbour has been confronted with fires on more than 500 hectares in the past few days and had to call for European help.

In the Renski area, right on the border with Italy, uncontrolled forest fires have been raging for several days over an area of more than 500 hectares. The situation is aggravated by the persistent extreme heat and high wind speeds in Slovenia, which make the fires unpredictable and harder to fight.

On 17 July, the Slovenian civil protection authorities finally pulled the ripcord and activated the Union Mechanism and sent a request for assistance to the European Member States asking for a fire-fighting aircraft. Subsequently, a second one was requested after the situation worsened.

As the Europe-wide capacity of fire-fighting aircraft is fully utilised due to the current number of fires, the European Commission asked individual Member States, including Austria, whether helicopters would be available to support the fire-fighting measures in the event of a request from Slovenia.

After internal consultation, Austria informed Slovenia that an Austrian helicopter, including crew and equipment, could be sent to fight the fires in the Nova Goriza area of operation.

On 20 July, the Slovenian authorities requested the Austrian helicopter. The aircraft, carrying a fire-fighting water container with a maximum capacity of 550 litres as well as supplementary equipment and a flight rescuer for support, started its first of a total of 400 rotations in the afternoon hours.

On its first mission, the Austrian helicopter took about 40 minutes to reach the scene, where it supported the Slovenian emergency services until sunset. In the following days, a second Austrian helicopter was also deployed.

On the morning of 25 July 2022, Slovenia informed that no further international aircraft support was required. All international forces were redeployed back to their home bases.

In just under 29 hours, a total volume of 200,000 litres was brought to the area of operation by the two helicopters in around 400 rotations. "I would like to thank all the emergency forces for their commitment and the quick help on the ground," emphasised the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Gerhard Karner.

BMI - Ministry of the Interior - Bundesministerium fuer Inneres