`Olive Trees in Dalmatia Burn in Fire Caused by Traffic Accident - Olive Oil Times

Olive Trees in Dalmatia Burn in Fire Caused by Traffic Accident

Jul. 15, 2022
Nedjeljko Jusup

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Croatia’s wild­fire sea­son has been an intense one in 2022. Data from European Forest Fire Information System show about 40 active fires in the coun­try.

One of the lat­est fires sparked in the hin­ter­land of Šibenik and Vodice, on the cen­tral Dalmatian coast­line, burn­ing houses, fields, olive groves and vine­yards.

The full extent of the dam­age is yet to be deter­mined, as are the causes of the fire. The extra­or­di­nar­ily high tem­per­a­tures and wind has made extin­guish­ing these blazes more dif­fi­cult.

See Also:Signs of Life from Millenary Olive Tree Burned in Sardinian Wildfires

However, the ori­gin of one of the most recent fires was well doc­u­mented, after a traf­fic acci­dent on a rural stretch of high­way resulted in a fire that burned 657 olive trees on the Dolina Maslina estate.

It was ter­ri­ble, but thank God no one was fatally injured. We are all alive,” said Valentin Krtalić, an agron­o­mist who runs the day-to-day oper­a­tions at the fam­ily olive grove.

The fire occurred after a 23-year-old Croatian national lost con­trol of his car on a stretch of high­way between Zadar and Šibenik. After crash­ing through a fence and over­turn­ing the vehi­cle ignited and burst into flames.

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The result­ing fire spread across the dry grass and low veg­e­ta­tion before engulf­ing the olive grove.

Fortunately, the dri­ver escaped from the vehi­cle and was trans­ferred to the hos­pi­tal in Zadar.

It’s a mir­a­cle. It’s a real mir­a­cle that he sur­vived,” said Krtalić, who was in his groves with his fam­ily when the event occurred.

We pruned the young olive trees planted last year,” he added. When we were get­ting ready to go home, our daugh­ters saw the fire.”

The olive grove is located 50 meters from the high­way, so the fire quickly reached the first rows of olive trees. Before extin­guish­ing the fire, Krtalići went to assist the injured young man, who other motorists were already help­ing.

The most impor­tant thing is that the young man is alive,” Krtalić said. He added that it was a mir­a­cle” how he man­aged to escape from the car after it rolled over.

After admin­is­ter­ing first aid, an ambu­lance took him to the hos­pi­tal. Firefighters also arrived and came to douse the flames. With the help of the fire­fight­ers, Krtalić pre­vented the fire from caus­ing more wide­spread dam­age to his trees.

The Krtalić fam­ily grows their 14,000 trees together with Denis Plastić and Neven Klinac, the own­ers of OPG Plastić and Bovan.

Combined, they grow 33,000 trees on 100 hectares, the largest organic olive grove in Croatia. From these groves, the fam­i­lies have pro­duced many award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils.

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Plastić has gained fur­ther noto­ri­ety recently for sea-aging his olive oils to try and pre­serve their qual­i­ties for longer.

The three fam­i­lies acknowl­edged that they were quite lucky the fire was stopped before it could do more seri­ous dam­age. However, they worry that the phe­nom­e­non is becom­ing increas­ingly worse.

Last year, 120 trees burned. Now it’s 657,” said Mirko Krtalić, the owner of Dolina Maslina. There are more than 13,000 left. The most impor­tant thing is that the young man from the car sur­vived. We will restore the olive trees.”

Krtalići knows that com­pen­sa­tion for burned olive groves is min­i­mal. Only the costs of the expected one-year crop are paid, not the multi-year effort to grow and main­tain the trees nor the expected yield burned in the fire.

For exam­ple, one of the olive grow­ers whose 4,000-year-old olive trees burned in the Šibenik hin­ter­land received 240 Croatian Kuna (€32) of com­pen­sa­tion, less than 5 per­cent of the esti­mated dam­age.

In another case, 60 olive trees burned on the estate of Tima Santini in Turnje a few years ago. He only asked for com­pen­sa­tion for the costs of felling and restora­tion of the olive trees, but he said he did not receive any funds.

It is impor­tant to keep our heads up,” Mirko and Valentin Krtlaić con­cluded. There will be olives. Only human lives are irre­place­able.”


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