Devastating wildfires ravaging Greece

State mechanism stretched to limit to contain blazes spreading uncontrollably in Attica

Devastating wildfires ravaging Greece

As resurgent fires torched homes and threatened monuments, and blazes ripped uncontrollably through northern Attica, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Thursday night in a televised address that saving human lives is the government’s top priority.

“Homes can be rebuilt, the trees will grow back, but human loss cannot be compensated,” Mitsotakis said as emergency crews battled for a third day to control blazes across Greece.

“We have a duty to safeguard our country against the reality of climate change,” he said, adding that he is “not looking for an alibi.”

A total of 99 new fires broke out Thursday, raising the total number of blazes in progress to 145.

In Attica new fires at the foot of Mount Parnitha led Thursday to successive evacuations. 

The flames had reached the Afidnes tollgates on the national highway last night, while orders had been given earlier to evacuate citizens from Drosopigi, Kryoneri, Ippokratios Politia, Afidnes and Kokkinovrachos. There were also outbreaks in the former royal estate of Tatoi outside Athens.

Police officers attempted to remove those who had been left behind and assist in the transport of citizens with mobility problems. At least five burn victims were treated last night at KAT Hospital. Two of them were reportedly volunteers who were placed in intensive care last night.

In the Attica suburb of Varybobi, 95 fires were recorded after the first on Tuesday – 12 of them broke out Thursday. 

In total, more than 300 firefighters were battling the blazes in Attica with 150 vehicles, while seven aircraft and 11 helicopters periodically assisted until late Thursday night. Firefighters said the blaze created local gusts of air that accelerated the spread of the fires. 

According to experts at the National Observatory of Athens who studied Tuesday’s fire in Varybobi, its rapid spread was “due to the dense and extremely dry available fuel (result of prolonged drought, the heatwave and the bad winter weather, brought by the Ianos and Medea fronts).”

Oropos Mayor Giorgos Yiasimakis told Kathimerini that the attempt to evacuate settlements in Ippokratios Politia had already started by noon. “We urge everyone to leave,” he said. 

The Migration Ministry also proceeded with the preventive evacuation of the migrant center in Malakasa.

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