Raging Greece wildfires devour more land, homes
Several cities, districts evacuated as fires spread rapidly in different places around Greece
A major fire continued to burn through the forest of Varibobi in Greece’s Attica region on Wednesday, despite persistent efforts by authorities and local volunteers to contain the blaze.
At least five aircraft and nine helicopters resumed operations at first light, accompanied by several fire tenders on the ground, but sweltering temperatures helped the fire spread rapidly to the Adames district in the Kifisia suburb, located next to Varibobi.
Officials were forced to close all entrance points to the district and evacuate the area.
Authorities said they have reports that almost 100 houses have been totally burnt in Adames, which is right next to the Chelidonous stream, an area rich in vegetation, particularly pine trees, and wildlife.
According to residents, the soaring mercury levels – which hit 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day – were also hindering efforts to douse the blaze, as water being dropped by helicopters was evaporating before reaching the flames.
Locals also complained of a lax response by the fire department in Adames district, saying firefighters were nowhere to be seen and they were left trying to fend off the flames with household garden hoses.
“We were lucky not to lose our home,” said Marialena Misiri, a resident of Adames district, who saw flames licking the fence around her house.
“It was my husband and neighbor who managed to contain a fire that was burning the pine trees around our houses,” she added.
Another resident said his family had to abandon their house as there were no firefighters to help them stop the approaching flames.
“Thank God, we only suffered some damage, particularly around the windows,” he said.
“We were among the lucky ones,” he added, pointing to a house with a completely collapsed roof.
The past 24 hours have been a nightmare for Greek authorities as the country battles several fires in different locations.
As a precautionary measure, an evacuation was ordered in the ancient Olympia region in the Peloponnese peninsula.
The situation there is “very difficult,” Vassilis Giannopoulos, deputy governor of the Ilia region, told local media.
Conditions are also challenging in other areas of Greece, with the coast guard ordered to evacuate residents and tourists from the coastal town of Rovies as a fire moves quickly towards the area.
Police reported that the blaze was spreading rapidly, burning through a pine forest with flames reaching as high as 20 meters.