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Croatia's Dubrovnik residents to join firefighters in battling flames

Croatia's Dubrovnik residents joined firefighters in battling flames that were about to consume the famous medieval city. The crews managed to bring the situation under control on Monday.

Residents joined firefighters in battling flames that threatened to consume the medieval city of Dubrovnik overnight, with crews managing to bring the blaze under control on Monday.

Residents labored alongside about 1,000 firefighters, helping to carry hoses and pouring buckets of water onto flames that had surrounded the historic southern coastal city Sunday. With the smoke thick and overpowering, many used handkerchiefs or shirts to cover their faces as they struggled to the keep the blaze at bay.

The effort helped avert a disaster for Dubrovnik - a popular tourist destination known as the "pearl of the Adriatic" - during the height of summer holiday season.

It was not immediately clear how many people were treated for smoke inhalation, but paramedics were seen attending to a number of firefighters at the scene.

The flames had swiftly spread through the woods outside Dubrovnik on Sunday, fed by strong winds. The line of fire above the city was about 20 kilometers (13 miles) long at one point.

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

Most tourists were not affected by the fires because the majority of hotels are situated along the Dalmatian coast.

Dubrovnik, founded in the seventh century, has been on UNESCO's list of protected world cultural heritage sites since the 1960s. The city - with its intact walled Old Town built in the 13th century - is cherished for the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches monasteries and palaces.

Only one abandoned house in a Dubrovnik suburb burned down, and no evacuation was required, officials said.

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