Bulgaria renews state of emergency amid fresh blazes

SOFIA, Jul 14, 2000 -- (AFP) Bulgarian authorities re-introduced a state of emergency in parts of the south of the country Thursday as rising temperatures sparked dozens of new fires, state radio reported Thursday.

Storm force winds fanned fires in the Haskovo and Dimitrovgrad regions as well as around Plovdiv, the country's second largest city, where there were 35 reports in just one hour.

More than 100 new blazes were reported overall. One fire was reported in a hospital in the village of Harmanli.

Authorities lifted a state of emergency only on Wednesday in the Haskovo region after fires swept across 100 kilometers (60 miles) of land, singeing 17 villages and coming dangerously close to a number of munitions depots.

"We are praying for the wind to die down and for some rain," said Haskovo mayor Gueorgi Ivanov, while state radio said evacuations were complicated by blazing trees which have fallen on roads.

The army has been mobilized to deal with the current crisis, which comes after weeks of high temperatures across the Balkan and Mediterranean region.

A number of people were injured due to the new blazes, state radio reported. A chemical factory caught fire near Plovdiv, and several people were overcome by fumes.

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