NEWS

About 2,800 hectares of forestland turned to ash in Evia

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Fire, Environment

The wildfire that raged across central parts of the island of Evia from Tuesday and overnight until yesterday morning destroyed some 2,800 hectares of forestland in what authorities have described as an “ecological disaster.” 

The blaze broke out on Tuesday morning in the region of Agrilitsa, led to the evacuation of four villages – Stavros, Platania, Kontodespoti and Makrymalli – as a precaution, and also prompted an appeal from Greece for assistance from European partners Croatia and Italy.

No serious damage, apart from the destruction of four cars, were reported in the villages, even though the flames had reached the yards of homes.

By Wednesday morning the situation had improved enough to allow for the return of some 500 residents.

Firefighters remained focused on two points yesterday: a ravine 2 kilometers outside Stavros and a fir forest near Platania.

According to reports, there were active fronts at both points, with attempts to bring them under control mainly using water-dropping aircraft.

A total of 235 firefighters remained in the area Wednesday afternoon, along with 75 fire engines while seven airplanes and nine helicopters continued to conduct water-dropping missions.

According to official information, there was no single front as there had been on Tuesday, but rather scattered fires.

“The situation appears better, there was a huge effort [to contain the fire], superhuman efforts,” Kostas Bakoyannis, the regional governor for central Greece, told Skai TV.

“It is a difficult fire, that’s the reality... there is no danger to human life and that is what is important,” Bakoyannis said, but decried what he called an “ecological disaster.” 

The fact that winds had dropped also played a positive role in the effort to bring the fire under control Wednesday morning, as did the creation of firebreaks using excavators.

Moreover, the fact the most of the existing dense pine forest had already turned to ash, also helped to stop the fire from spreading further.

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