More than 600 firemen, including reinforcements from various European nations, are currently combating three big wildfires in Greece, two of which have been raging for several days. These firefighters are supported by a fleet of water-dropping planes and helicopters.
The massive fire that has been raging in the north-eastern areas of the country of Evros and Alexandroupolis for the past nine days is thought to have been the cause of the deaths of twenty persons.
The fire, which is considered to be one of the greatest single wildfires in Europe, has been responsible for the destruction of massive swaths of woodland as well as homes in the outskirts of the city of Alexandroupolis. According to the fire department, there were 295 firefighters, seven planes, and five helicopters working to put out the fire on Sunday.
The European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service reported on Sunday that the wildfire had charred 77,000 hectares (190,000 acres) of land and had 120 active hotspots on its path.
Earth observation is one of the focuses of the Copernicus component of the European Union’s space program, which derives mapping data from satellite photography.
Another big wildfire has been raging for days in the north-western outskirts of the Greek capital of Athens, causing damage to residences and spreading into the national park on Mount Parnitha, which is one of the few remaining green regions in the vicinity of the city. According to the fire service, 260 firefighters, together with one plane and three helicopters, are currently attempting to put out the fire.
A third significant wildfire occurred on the island of Andros in the Cyclades on Saturday and was still burning out of control on Sunday, despite the efforts of 73 firefighters, two planes, and two helicopters to put out the flames. There is a strong possibility that lightning was responsible for starting the fire.
Over the past week, Greece has been plagued by daily outbreaks of dozens of fires due to the combination of gale-force winds and hot, dry summer weather that have conspired to whip up flames and hinder efforts to put out fires. According to the information provided by the fire service, firefighters battled a total of 122 fires on Saturday, including 75 blazes that were reported to have started during the span of 24 hours between Friday evening and Saturday evening.
Greece has requested assistance from other European nations because its firefighting forces have been stretched to their absolute limits. Germany, Sweden, Croatia, and Cyprus have all dispatched aircraft to assist in the relief effort, while scores of firefighters from Romania, France, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovakia, and Serbia are also on the ground providing assistance.
Southern European nations, known for their hot and dry summers, have a higher risk of forest fires than northern European nations. EU experts have pointed the finger at climate breakdown as the cause of an increase in both the frequency and severity of wildfires across Europe, saying that the year 2022 was the second worst year on record for wildfire destruction after 2017.
It has not yet been determined what caused the two greatest fires that have occurred in Greece. Officials believe that some of the smaller fires were started intentionally or negligently, and they have detained numerous people in connection with these fires.
On Saturday, members of the Greek fire service apprehended two individuals, one on the island of Evia and another in the central area of Larissa, on the suspicion that they had intentionally set fire to dry grass and foliage in order to start wildfires.
Regulations for the prevention of wildfires are enforced in Greece from the beginning of May through the end of October on an annual basis. These regulations place restrictions on activities such as the burning of dried vegetation and the use of outdoor barbecues.
Pavlos Marinakis, a spokeswoman for the government, stated that as of Friday, authorities from the fire department had already detained 163 persons on fire-related offenses since the beginning of the fire prevention season. Of those, 118 were arrested for negligence and 24 were arrested for purposeful arson. He said that the police had made an additional 18 arrests since his last statement.