Greek wildfires: New blaze burning on ravaged Evia island
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A new fire broke out Friday on Greece’s second largest island of Evia, south of the area where a massive wildfire has decimated forests and torched homes, and was still smoldering 10 days after it started.
Greece’s fire department said four water-dropping aircraft and six helicopters were sent to control the fire that erupted in the morning in central Evia, along with 40 firefighters and 10 vehicles. By late afternoon, the fire had not been brought under control, the fire department said. The larger fire that broke out on Aug. 3 destroyed most of the island’s north and is one of the country’s worst known forest fires.
Firefighters from Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Poland and Moldova, along with Greek colleagues, were still working to extinguish the smoldering remnants of Evia’s main blaze, which has burnt more than 50,900 hectares (125,777 acres).
Although wildfires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summers, hundreds of blazes have broken out across the country in the space of a few days in the wake of an especially long and intense heat wave. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday described the fires as the greatest ecological disaster Greece has seen in decades.
Several Mediterranean countries have suffered intense heat and quickly spreading wildfires in recent weeks, including Turkey, where at least eight people have died, and Italy. In Algeria, wildfires in the mountainous Berber region have killed at least 69 people.
Worsening drought and heat — both linked to climate change — have also fueled wildfires this summer in the Western United States and in Russia’s northern Siberia region. Scientists say there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme events.
The fires in Greece stretched the country’s firefighting capabilities to the limit, and the government appealed for help from abroad. Around 24 European and Middle Eastern countries sent aid, including firefighters, aircraft and vehicles.
Two more major fires were still burning in the southern Greek region of the Peloponnese, where hundreds of French, German, Austrian and Czech firefighters were operating.
During his news conference on the fires on Thursday, the Greek prime minister warned that “difficult days” lay ahead until the summer season when wildfires typically break out is over.
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