In Greece, hundreds of firefighters engaged in a Homeric battle against fires

As another wave of heat waves is expected to hit Greece this week, hundreds of firefighters on Wednesday continued to battle wildfires west of Athens and on the tourist island of Rhodes.


Greece continues to burn. On Wednesday 19 July, for the third day in a row, hundreds of firefighters are fighting “a huge battle” against forest fires west of Athens and on the Greek tourist island of Rhodes, without however threatening residential areas. , authorities said.

“The men and women of Civil Protection (…) are fighting a huge battle against the flames,” Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on the private channel ANT1.

These night and day efforts “for the third day in a row” come as “weather conditions are difficult” due to strong winds of up to 60 kilometers per hour blowing across part of the country, he said.

While a new wave of heat waves was to hit Greece from Thursday, the minister also urged the population to be extremely vigilant. “I am asking everyone to support the efforts of the firefighters by being ‘very careful,'” he declared.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will go to the civil defense operation coordination center at the end of the morning to take stock of the means deployed to fight these forest fires, which have so far caused no casualties.

One hundred and twenty firefighters, aided by four Canadairs and three helicopters, are still battling the flames in the area around the resort town of Loutraki, about 80km from the Greek capital, where a fire broke out on Monday afternoon.

The fire is moving towards the region around the Isthmus of Corinth, according to the Greek news agency ANA. But the firefighters managed to keep the fire at a safe distance from refineries in the maritime industrial area west of Athens.

Public television channel ERT broadcast images of charred vegetation a few kilometers from the refineries, next to the highway linking the Greek capital with Corinth, further west.

In this region, houses were destroyed by the flames and residents of small towns were ordered to evacuate their homes, with warning messages sent to all mobile phones.

Temperatures of 44°C are expected

On the other main front located in the forest of Dervenochoria, 50km north of Athens, “significant ground forces are at work and since daylight 5 planes and 8 helicopters have been deployed”, a fire service spokesman said. , Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, during an early morning press briefing.

On the island of Rhodes (south-east), in the Dodecanese archipelago, a forest fire that broke out on Tuesday afternoon has spread and is progressing towards the center of the island, but “without threatening residential areas for now,” said the fire service spokesman.

At the scene, 86 firefighters, three Canadairs and three helicopters were deployed.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism has also been activated and four Canadairs from France and Italy arrived in Greece as reinforcements on Tuesday, according to the spokesman.

As a new heat wave threatens high temperatures of 44°C expected on Friday and Saturday in the center of the country, firefighters have warned of “the very high risk”, according to Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, of new fires.

The region around Athens, Attica, Crete (south) or the Peloponnese peninsula (south-west) are of particular concern.

Winds of up to 50 to 60 km/h are expected in Greece on Wednesday, but the National Meteorological Services (EMY) expects a gradual weakening by the end of the day.

Maximum temperatures of 41°C are expected today in the Peloponnese peninsula (southwest), according to EMY.


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