Firefighters and residents were still fighting a massive forest fire on Greece’s second-largest island for the seventh day in a row yesterday, seeking to salvage what they could from the flames that decimated vast stretches of virgin forests, destroyed homes and businesses, and forced thousands to flee. of people.
Smoke and ash from the fire in Euboea, a craggy island of forests and inlets that almost touch the Greek mainland, blocked the sun, turning the sky orange as fire swept through the northern part of the island.
The Euboea fire, which started on August 3, is the most severe of dozens that have broken out in Greece in the past week, after the country was hit by its worst heat wave in three decades, which raised the temperatures to 45 degrees Celsius. The heat, which arrives in the middle of what has already been a particularly hot boreal summer, has turned Greece’s forests, including large areas of easily flammable pine trees, into veritable dry powder kegs.
Other large fires have burned forests and farmland in the southern Greek region of the Peloponnese, while a large fire that swept through the northern suburbs of Athens and the Mount Parnitha national park on the edge of the capital was subsiding. Firefighting efforts continued in Parnitha, where French, Israeli and Cypriot firefighters are helping.
Wildfires have pushed Greece’s firefighting capacity to the limit, and the government has turned to other countries for help. More than 20 nations in Europe and the Middle East have responded by sending water jets, helicopters, vehicles and personnel.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias tweeted yesterday that he asked Russia to send a second Beriev Be-200 tanker. For the moment, Greece has leased one of those planes, the largest that operates in the fight against the Greek fires.
To date, two people have died in Greece and eight in Turkey, and dozens have had to be hospitalized affected by the consequences of the fire.
The Greek Coast Guard noted that 2,700 people were evacuated by its forces and private boats in the past ten days, most from the island of Euboea.
This includes 350 people evacuated from villages around Pefki, many of whom spent the night on a ferry parked near the coast.
The flames have devastated more than 56,000 hectares in the last ten days in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Some 1,700 hectares burned, on average, in the same period between 2008 and 2020. (AP and AFP)