Greek firefighters and rescue services battled to contain a wildfire burning through a nature reserve on Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, on Wednesday.
Six planes and five helicopters were sent to battle with the blazes swallowing the island’s dense pine forests, while on the ground 250 firefighters were joined by soldiers and volunteers. By mid-Wednesday, it was estimated that 28 square kilometers had been burnt, and several environmental agencies were quoted as stating that the Natura-included pine forest has been completely destroyed.
So far there were no human casualties apart from the hospitalisation of one volunteer that suffered burns but is in a stable condition.
The village of Platania was one of four whose residents were evacuated on Tuesday after the fire broke out at 3am that day. Swallowing everything in its path. Though the fire was initially contained around a ravine, strong winds rekindled the area and caused extensive damage. Not easily, accessible by air, the fire burnt at a ravine that lies at great depth, while black smoke enveloped the area.
A state of emergency was declared in the area due to strong winds.
Authorities expressed cautious optimism on the second day of the fire, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the area to survey the damage. “I am satisfied by the level of coordination but there is still other work that needs to be done,” he said, adding that “drastic interventions” would be made to the operation of the civil protection services. “I am satisfied by the level of coordination but there is still other work that needs to be done. We know that wildfires will be with us. They will be part of our daily life, as they have always been, and as climate change is taking its toll on southern Europe.”
The European civil protection system was called and Italy and Croatia pledged four firefighting planes.
Last year, more than 100 people died when a wildfire raged through a coastal resort northeast of Mati and authorities were blamed for poor coordination efforts. The dissatisfaction caused the government to lose credibility in dealing with disasters. Greek Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Christohoidis said that authorities had “managed to protect people’s lives and save people’s properties.”