This World War I battlefield is on fire and exploding 100-year-old ordnance


This headline is brought to you by the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) which works to support resilience and recovery in global communities affected by war and conflict.

(Task and Purpose) The First World War ended 104 years ago, but thanks to wildfires burning the European continent, echoes of the Great War are being heard. And seen. And nearly killing firefighters because bombs left over from the conflict are blowing up.

A massive wildfire is currently raging in the Kras region in Slovenia’s southwest. The fires are having the unexpected effect of setting off multiple unexploded ordnances (or UXOs) left in the ground from World War I. The fire has burned more than eight square miles, and forced at least three villages on or near the Italian-Slovenian border to evacuate, including the border town of Opatje Selo. More than 1,000 firefighters and elements of the Slovenian military have been fighting the blaze. 

The fires alone are presenting risks to firefighters, but the risk of sudden, unexpected explosions add another level of danger. Local media reported that one explosion sent shrapnel right by a group of firefighters, but no one was injured in the blast. Slovenia has sent in bomb disposal teams to help clear the space for containing and battling the fires. Slovakia, Austria and Croatia have also dispatched helicopter crews to assist in the efforts.


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Published: Monday, July 25, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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