Image: Firefighters and Croatia civilians
Admir Buljubasic  /  AP
Croatian residents helped firefighters by carrying hoses and buckets of water to douse flames that surrounded the medieval city of Dubrovnik, known as the "pearl of the Adriatic."
updated 8/6/2007 5:59:13 PM ET 2007-08-06T21:59:13

Residents joined hundreds of firefighters Monday to beat back a wildfire that threatened to consume the medieval city of Dubrovnik, a popular tourist destination famed for its churches, monasteries and palaces.

Residents helped firefighters by carrying hoses and buckets of water to douse the flames that surrounded the historic southern coastal city. With the smoke thick and overpowering, many used handkerchiefs or shirts to cover their faces as they struggled to keep the fire at bay.

The effort helped avert a disaster for Dubrovnik — known as the “pearl of the Adriatic” — during the height of summer holiday season. Most tourists were not affected by the fire because the majority of hotels are situated along the coast.

Paramedics were seen attending to a number of firefighters at the scene, but it was not immediately clear how many people were treated.

Strong winds helped the flames spread swiftly through the woods outside Dubrovnik on Sunday. The line of fire above the city was about 13 miles long at one point.

Officials prepared shelters in an ancient fortress and sports hall in the city in case the fire spread and required its evacuation — scenes reminiscent of the 1991 Croatian war, when the city was bombarded by Serb rebels.

Dubrovnik, founded in the seventh century, has been on UNESCO’s list of protected world cultural heritage sites since the 1960s. The city is cherished for the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Its walled Old Town dates back to the 13th century.

Only one abandoned house in a Dubrovnik suburb burned down, officials said.

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