Forest / Wild Fire in Greece on August 13 2019 02:25 PM (UTC).
Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping planes and helicopters struggled for a third day Thursday to tackle a wildfire burning through a pine forest on the Greek island of Evia. Nearly 400 firefighters, 11 helicopters and 13 planes - including two from Italy and one from Spain sent in following Greece's request for help - fought the blaze which broke out hours before dawn on Tuesday and has ravaged a nature reserve. The fire department said Thursday evening that the wildfire was "developing." The most active parts of the blaze were far from inhabited areas, burning through the dense pine forest in canyons hard to reach by land. Residents gradually returned to four villages that had been evacuated on the first day but were on standby should they be required to leave again. A state of emergency has been declared in the area, and Greece requested firefighting assistance from other European countries. A volunteer firefighter who suffered burns underwent surgery on Thursday and remained hospitalized. Another 39 forest fires broke out in the 24 hours from Wednesday evening to Thursday evening across the country, the fire department said, with around 1,000 firefighters, volunteers and the military tackling the blazes. Most were brought under control in their initial stages, it added. Separately, two men - a 58-year-old and a 52-year-old - were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday on suspicion of arson in two separate forest fire cases in southern Greece. Wildfires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summer months. Authorities have repeatedly warned the public not to engage in outdoor activities that could cause fires, such as welding work, burning weeds or lighting campfires and barbecues. Parks and forest areas are closed at times of high fire risk, and daily bulletins are issued on the level of fire risk around the country. Causing a forest fire is a criminal offense in Greece. Last summer, more than 100 people died when a fast-moving forest fire broke out in a seaside area northeast of Athens and raged through the vacation-home settlement of Mati. The blaze trapped many in homes, on narrow paths and in their cars as they attempted to flee, while others drowned while trying to swim away from the heat and choking smoke engulfing beaches. Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day's most important headlines.
Dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft battle a wildfire on an island north of Athens that has left the Greek capital blanketed in smoke. Hundreds of firefighters battled wildfires in Greece Tuesday, with the largest burning through a thickly forested nature reserve on the island of Evia north of Athens where three villages have been evacuated. More than 220 firefighters were deployed to tackle the fire that was burning out of control in Evia, along with six water-dropping planes and seven helicopters. Smoke from the fire blanketed the Greek capital in the morning. The country's civil protection authority warned people in affected areas, particularly the elderly, young children and those suffering from breathing or heart conditions, to remain indoors and set air conditioning units to recycle indoor air. Dozens of more firefighters, two planes and a helicopter tackled a separate forest fire on the northern island of Thassos. A third wildfire was burning through brush and dried weeds near Thebes, northwest of Athens, while another broke out in southern Greece, burning woodland and agricultural areas. More than 30 firefighters were tackling the fourth blaze. Forest fires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summer months. Authorities have repeatedly warned the public not to engage in outdoor activities that could cause fires, such as welding work, burning dried weeds or lighting campfires and barbecues. Parks and forest areas are sometimes closed to the public at times of high fire risk. Last year, more than 100 people died when a fast-moving forest fire broke out in a seaside area northeast of Athens and raged through a nearby settlement of mainly holiday homes. The fire trapped people in their cars as they attempted to flee, while many other victims drowned as they tried to swim away from beaches overcome by heat and choking smoke.
More than a thousand firefighters battled wildfires Tuesday in Greece, with the largest burning out of control through a nature reserve on the island of Evia north of Athens causing four villages and a monastery to be evacuated. The country's civil protection authority declared a state of emergency in the area of Evia affected by the fire, where about 280 firefighters, volunteers, soldiers, six water-dropping planes and six helicopters were deployed, along with one more helicopter coordinating the air support. Greece called on the European civil protection organization for assistance, and four firefighting planes were being sent from Croatia and Italy, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who cut short his summer vacation and returned to the Greek capital to visit the fire department's main coordination center. "The conditions today are exceptionally difficult," Mitsotakis said. He thanked firefighters for their efforts and said the government's main concern was protecting human life. Strong winds fanned the fire in the thickly forested Evia reserve, as well as several more wildfires burning Tuesday in Greece. A total of 56 forest fires broke out around the country in a 24-hour period spanning Monday night and Tuesday. More than 1,000 firefighters in all were assigned to the blazes. A volunteer firefighter reportedly burned on the island was transported to a hospital in Athens. "The most important thing is to not have any human casualties," Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos said in a telephone interview aired on state television. Smoke from the Evia fire blanketed Athens in the morning. Authorities warned people in affected areas, particularly the elderly, young children and those suffering from breathing or heart conditions, to remain indoors and set air conditioning units to recycle indoor air. The blaze broke out shortly after 3 a.m. local time, the civil protection authority said, and strong winds helped spread it through the dense pine forest. More than 300 people from four villages were gradually evacuated during the day, many riding on buses and others going out in their own vehicles. "The fire trapped us at Makrimalli, and we had to leave quickly," said Nikos Petrou, referring to one of the villages that were ordered evacuated. "As I was leaving, the fire was coming behind us. " A separate blaze broke out on the north part of Evia, and 15 firefighters, a helicopter and a small plane worked to keep it from spreading. Dozens more firefighters, two planes and a helicopter tackled a separate forest fire on the northern island of Thassos. Another wildfire was burning through brush and dried weeds near Thebes, northwest of Athens. More than 30 firefighters tackled yet another in southern Greece; the fire department said it was brought under partial control after about an hour. On Tuesday afternoon, an additional blaze broke out in southern Greece. Forest fires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summer months. Authorities have repeatedly warned the public not to engage in outdoor activities that could cause fires, such as welding work, burning dried weeds or lighting campfires and barbecues. Parks and forest areas are closed to the public at times of high fire risk. Last year, more than 100 people died when a fast-moving forest fire broke out in a seaside area northeast of Athens and raged through a nearby settlement of mainly holiday homes. The fire trapped people in their cars as they attempted to flee, while many other victims drowned as they tried to swim away from beaches overcome by heat and choking smoke.