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Montenegro wildfires threaten ancient forest

July 16, 2012
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PODGORICA, Montenegro—Firefighters in Montenegro are struggling to contain wildfires that are threatening an ancient pine forest in the northeast of the country.

Fires have erupted amid extremely high temperatures in the Balkans, reaching around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Montenegro in the past weeks.

Fires have destroyed hundreds of acres of forests and about a dozen houses and stables. Officials say the blaze has reached the outer rim of the Crna Poda forest, where some of the pine trees are 400 years old.

Emergency official Radomir Scepanovic said Monday that "we will stay to protect (the forest) until the rain falls."

Firefighters have been using planes and choppers, but efforts are hampered by hilly terrain and occasional strong winds.

The forest is located within the UNESCO-protected Tara river canyon.

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