ZAGREB - Firefighting planes on Monday bombarded flames that threatened the historic Croatian resort of Dubrovnik where authorities have declared a state of emergency.

Three Canadair water bombers came to the aid of 250 firefighters and hundreds of residents who are trying to save their imperiled town on Croatia's Dalmatian coast.

Deputy fire chief Tomislav Vuko said the forest and scrub fires were now believed to be under control though they have not been put out.

One fire on a hill overlooking Dubrovnik still threatens homes, he said.

"In some areas we fought the blaze house-to-house. The damage could have been worse, but we were able to stop the fire injuring more people or damaging more property," Vuko said.

Twenty-six firefighters have been injured in the fire since Saturday as they tried to protect the UNESCO heritage-listed town.

Smoke ringed the hills overlooking the town which is packed with tourists during the peak of the summer holiday season.

Strong winds had fanned the flames which formed a 20 kilometre (12 mile) front on Sunday as it approached the town, whose medieval walls tower over the Adriatic Sea.

The fire also raged since Friday in two highly residential areas seven kilometres (4.3 miles) east of Dubrovnik.

Women, children and the elderly were roused from their beds by an order to evacuate Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency but by Monday morning the crisis was believed to have passed.

"We are satisfied with the outcome of this situation. Our forces have done a great job during the night and we have brought the fire under control along the entire front," Vuko said.

Dubrovnik was devastated by an earthquake in the 17th century, and was again severly damaged by shelling during the Balkans war in the early 1990s.

A heatwave across much of southern Europe in recent weeks has caused extensive forest fires from Greece across Italy and last week even in Spain's Canary islands.

Fires have also ravaged other parts of Croatia, burning 180 hectares (445 acres) of forest near the Adriatic seaside resort of Vodice.

The blaze was brought under control on Sunday by 170 firefighters labouring through the night with the help of a helicopter and Canadair water bomber planes, according to the Croatian firefighter centre.

Some 2,300 hectares (5,600 acres) of forest and brush burned last month, the result of heatwave that struck the Dalmatian coast.