Report issued on one of the devastating fires near Athens, Greece

Greece wildfire July 2018

A report has been issued about one of the wildfires that recently burned into populated areas in Greece (covered by Wildfire Today here). The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens distributed the document in their Newsletter of Environmental, Disaster, and Crisis Management Strategies.

The fire started July 23, 2018 near the community of Kallitehnoupolis on Penteli Mountain, approximately 20km (12 miles) northeast of Athens and 5.6 km (3.5 miles) west of the Aegean Sea. With the extreme weather conditions it spread quickly east to Kallitechnoulopis, Neos Voutzas, Rafina, and reached Mati where it finally stopped at the coast.

The Fire Service responded, sending 60 personnel in  24 vehicles, 2 ground forces teams, 3 Canadair scooping air tankers, and a helicopter.

Pushed by strong winds out of the west the fire ran 5.6 km (3.5 miles) in about 90 minutes, moving through a densely populated area frequented by tourists.

From the report:

The aftermath is tragic. The fire burned approximately 1,276 ha (3,153 acres), estimated from satellite data. Within the area, there are approximately 1,220 totally destroyed buildings (according to official inspections) and 305 burned vehicles. The days following the event, the authorities recovered at least 91 bodies from the scene (updated July 31, 2018 at 11.00am). Several missing persons were reported and tens of injured (approximately 200 at some point) were transferred to nearby hospitals.

The wind speeds recorded by a network of weather stations were the highest seen during the summer months in the last eight years, with gusts of 100 to 120 km/hour (62 to 74 mph).

The rapid spread of the fire and with little effective notification, the residents and tourists in the communities in its path and the densely populated city of Mati had little chance to escape. The report said, “The population had almost zero time between risk awareness and reaction decision”.

Greece wildfire July 2018Many got in their vehicles and drove away from the blaze toward the coast. They encountered urban planning, or the lack of it, that included narrow streets, numerous dead ends, elongated blocks without the possibility of lateral escape, and the absence of areas that could serve as safety zones. The visiting tourists who were often not very familiar with the layout of the streets were at a particular disadvantage. The low visibility due to the smoke was another challenge. Continue reading “Report issued on one of the devastating fires near Athens, Greece”

At least 50 people killed in wildfires near Athens, Greece

This is the deadliest fire season in Greece since 2007

Above: The red dots on the map represent fires in Greece detected by a satellite July 23, 2018.

(Originally published at 8:25 a.m. MDT July 24, 2018)

Authorities in Greece are saying that at least 50 people have been killed in two large wildfires near Athens. As 50 mph winds pushed the fires, residents and tourists took refuge on ocean beaches. Boats plucked some out of the water while others were picked up on the shore and taken to safety. The Greek Coast Guard and other vessels picked up more than 700 who were fleeing from the fire.

Rescuers reported finding the bodies of more than 20 people huddled together near a beach. Other were found in or near groups of vehicles that became trapped, much like the situation in Portugal last year when 62 people died.

There are at least two large fires in Greece. One is about 10 miles northeast of Athens near the coastal city of Nea Makri and the other is about 25 miles west of Athens at another city on the coast, Kineta. Both fires spread toward the ocean, generally west to east.

The Associated Press reported that 10 people were killed when a boat capsized while it was evacuating vacationers from a hotel in Mati, east of Athens.

This is the deadliest fire season in Greece since 2007 when more than 60 people were killed in the Peloponnese region.

Showers near Athens Monday missed both fires, but heavy rain is in the forecast for Wednesday.

Several European countries have offered to send water-scooping air tankers to assist firefighters, including Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Croatia. Greece also has their own fleet of scoopers.

Firefighters dealing with 90 wildfires in Greece

Above: A wildfire burns north of Athens, Greece, August 14, 2017.

(Originally published at 2:40 p.m. MDT August 14, 2017)

Numerous wildfires are burning in Greece, with one of them damaging homes and threatening more as it burns through a pine forest north of Athens. The AP reported that about 20 structures were damaged Sunday in the fire near Varnava.

Several fires are burning on the island of Zakynthos where Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, the MP for Zakytnos, said, “It’s arson according to an organized plan”.

wildfire greece Zakynthos Pyrgos
Wildfires in Greece, August 14, 2017. One is north of Pyrgos and others are on the island of Zakynthos.

Man arrested for allegedly starting fatal wildfire near Athens, Greece

A 28-year-old man has been arrested after his weekend brush-burning around a greenhouse ignited a destructive and deadly wildfire roughly 40 miles outside of Athens, Greece.

The fire, which started Sunday, burned a forested area and charred a house on the outskirts of Agioi Theodoroi, the Associated Press reported.

The victim is believed to have been an elderly woman who was reported missing earlier in the day. Two other people suffered burn-related injuries.

The man is accused of causing a fire through negligence while burning dried-out vegetation next to a greenhouse, the National Herald reported. 

 

Firefighters battle two large fires in Greece

air crane fire Athens Greece
Air Crane working on the fire near Athens Photo by Dimitris.

Firefighters are battling two large fires in Greece. One has burned near the suburbs of the capital city of Athens where it has moved into a residential area.

A second fire at the southern tip of the Peloponnese in the Laconia area is being pushed by strong winds. Three villages were evacuated and scores of people fled to the beach where the Coast Guard and other vessels were attempting to evacuate them, but those rescue efforts were being hampered by rough seas.

Laconia Fire, Greece
Fire near Laconia, Greece

One of seven air tankers working on the Lakonia fire had to make an emergency landing but the two pilots were not hurt, fire officials said.

Google translated the text in the above tweet (which is a photo of the fire near Athens): “Picture sent by our reader , pulled from the Tower Apollo go.naft.gr/MszUzv ( F : Ch.Vasilopoulou )”

Greek fires may change political balance of power

Hundreds of Greeks staged a silent protest in Athens on Friday to condemn the failure of the government to stop the devastating fires that burned into the suburbs of Athens recently. About a thousand protesters assembled in front of the Greek parliament to express their outrage to the scandal-plagued administration that “allowed” a similar fire storm in 2007. 

Approximately 65 homes were destroyed and 143 others were damaged in the fires that burned near Athens between Friday and Tuesday of last week.

The two main political parties are about evenly matched in Greece. If the dissatisfaction with the administration caused by the wildfires gains momentum, it could result in many of the current office-holders being replaced by candidates from the opposing party during the next election.