Starting from 30 July 2021, the Republic of North Macedonia was hit by a heat wave that resulted in severe fires in several regions in the country. The fires have been raging for 16 days and are still not under control despite the enormous efforts of the state institutions responsible for crisis management as well as the local population. According to forecasts, the extremely hot weather is expected to continue until 25 August.
The hot weather and high temperatures resulted in intensive recurring fires in many regions in the country in the last 12 days. The severe fires in numerous regions resulted in devastation of forests, fertile land, crops and property of the population. One casualty and several injured persons (inhaling smoke) have been reported. Numerous houses as well as other facilities have burnt down and were damaged in many villages.
On 4 August 2021, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia declared a state of crisis on the whole territory of the country for a period of 30 days. This is the trigger date for this DREF operation. There are still active fires in 3 locations as of 18 August. The situation cannot be predicted and may develop in different directions. The declared emergency situation in the country is currently until 30 August, with a possibility to be prolonged.
The most affected regions are as follows: Strumica, Kochani, Kumanovo, Gevgelija, Valandovo, Bitola and Prilep, Shtip, Berovo, Pehchevo, Delchevo Skopje, Radovish, Ohrid, Kriva Palanka, Veles.
The crisis management system of the country is coordinating efforts to put out the fires and to assist the affected population. Response teams from the Fire Brigade, the Crisis Management Centre, the Directorate for Protection and Rescue, the Army, and the Red Cross of the Republic of North Macedonia are coordinating efforts in the field in order to cope and respond to the crisis situation. However, due to the limited resources of the state for dealing with fires (no air tractors and only two army helicopters available for firefighting), an expansion of wildfires was observed almost on the whole territory of the country.
The Red Cross of the Republic of North Macedonia (RCRNM) with all material and human resources, in frames of its possibilities, is participating in the overall efforts of the state authorities to respond to the crisis situation. The overall Red Cross operation is coordinated by the RCRNM Operational Centre which is responsible for coordination of the activities of the national society with the state authorities and the Red Cross branches. The Head of the RCRNM Operational Centre participates on a daily basis in the coordination meetings of the Centre for Crisis Management in order to coordinate the work of the National Society with the state agencies working in the field on national and local level.
The weather forecast for the forthcoming days is extreme high temperatures with +40°C, which means that the situation with the raging fires would continue during the whole month of August. (IFRC, 20 Aug 2021)