Reuters reported today that torrential rains have flooded homes, businesses, and roads in Greece — with at least one death reported after a man died when a wall collapsed, according to fire officials on Tuesday.
The Guardian reported that Greece has been stricken by hundreds of wildfires this summer, with dozens of new fires starting each day. Most are controlled quickly but some have exceeded fire services’ capacity. One fire in the northeast has destroyed homes and vast tracts of forest since it took off on August 19.
Another fire on the island of Rhodes burned for days in July, forcing holidaymakers and locals to evacuate homes and hotels.
Storm Daniel has battered much of Greece since Monday, with hundreds of calls to emergency services to pump out water just days after a deadly wildfire that has burned for more than two weeks in the north was finally controlled.
Meanwhile, videos posted online on August 23 show Greek members of the political extreme right illegally “arresting” migrants in Evros, a Greek region that borders Turkey. The videos show militants forcing men to sit in the dirt while other migrants were crammed into a trailer. The attackers accuse the migrants of being responsible for the widespread fires in the region.
Firefighters in Greece are fighting to contain a wildfire west of Athens that has burned through forestland for a fifth day; Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that airtankers and reinforcements from several countries including Cyprus, France, Israel, and Italy are working the fire near Athens that’s burned homes and forced evacuations.
On Friday, Greek firefighters were working nearly 80 fires across the country, and the government on Friday announced relief measures for affected households, including financial aid and subsidies for residential rent.
Climate Crisis Minister Vassilis Kikilias urged residents to remain on guard. The risk of wildfires in the coming days will remain high, and more hot weather is forecasted. “We are having a very difficult three-day spell,” he said, “with extreme weather conditions and very high temperatures followed by strong winds.” He added that after a short respite, another heatwave was then forecast from the middle of next week.
With temperatures expected to hit 45°C (113°F) over the weekend, during the height of the summer tourist season, the Culture Ministry announced that all archaeological sites including the Acropolis monument will be closed between 12 noon and 5.30 p.m. until at least July 23.
Meteorologists are warning that extreme temperatures will persist till at least the end of July.
The fires are occurring during the most severe heatwave in 30 years
1645 UTC, August 9, 2021
Wildfires are burning through tens of thousands of acres on the Greek island of Evia, forcing some residents and tourists to evacuate by sea. Ferries are pulling up to resort beaches and dropping a ramp for people on foot to board.
The government ordered the evacuation of four villages in the northern part of the island, including Pefki which had been used as a temporary evacuation center.
And it is not just on Evia, the second largest island in Greece. Other blazes in the country have been forcing residents from their homes and destroying structures for more than a week. In some areas the fires have subsided, including a large blaze north of Athens and others in the Peloponnese region.
This is occurring during the most severe heatwave in 30 years in which temperatures have risen to 45C (113F) for days at a time.
The fires have led to two confirmed deaths, including a volunteer firefighter who died near Athens after being struck by a falling utility pole weakened by the fire, according to the Associated Press.
With its emergency responders overwhelmed, Greece has requested assistance from countries near and far. Several countries have already sent aircraft and firefighters, including France, Israel, Romania, Spain and the United States. The Navy Times reports that the U.S. Navy sent a reconnaissance plane late last week to assist efforts.
Greece is not the only country on fire. Amid a record heat wave, wildfires are also raging in Turkey, Lebanon and Italy. In Turkey, more than 500 square miles of coastal forest have been torched, and eight people have been killed. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated there.
The video below has scenes showing residents and tourists boarding a ferry that beached at a resort as a fire burns nearby.
ABC Australia has a synopsis of the wildfire situation in Greece:
At least four fires are burning on the island of Evia
(UPDATED at 3:43 p.m. MDT July 5, 2019)
Multiple wildfires are burning on the Greek island of Evia, requiring the evacuation of Makrichori, Neochori, Dafni, Gavalas, and Lofiskos. (See the map above)
Two additional fires were reported late Thursday night, officials said, and another Friday afternoon, to bring the total to four.
According to the Fire Service, resources assigned to the fires include 330 personnel with 100 vehicles, 8 water-dropping airplanes, and40 helicopters.
Officials said a 64-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of starting the first fire by using a naked flame to burn dried weeds near his house. The man will appear before a prosecutor in court Friday.
The fires are burning approximately 55 k (34 miles) north-northeast of Athens.
In July, 2018 a 1,276-Ha (3,153-acre) fire burned from Kallitechnoulopis, Greece through Neos Voutzas and Rafina, reaching Mati where it finally stopped at the coast.The fire killed at least 91 people and destroyed 1,220 structures.
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”.
Many 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”
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.