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Wildfire on Samos Island Forces Evacuation of Greek Holiday Resort

wildfire Samos
The scene from the tourist resort of Kokkari, Samos on Thursday evening. Credit: Twitter/Dolf Ruesink @DolfRuesink

Dozens of firefighters aided by three helicopters and three air tankers are battling a wildfire on the eastern Aegean island of Samos which started on Thursday evening.

Kokkari, a village popular with tourists along the island’s northern coastline, was evacuated as a precaution as the fire spread from a forested area near the village of Vourliotes located on Mt. Ambelos.

Tourists from at least two hotels located near the front of the fire were evacuated. According to the Fire Service a total of 210 people were moved to other hotels further away from the blaze.

There are no reports of injuries.

Situation of Samos wildfire “difficult”

The coordinator of the Fire Service, Ioannis Stamoulis, described the situation as “difficult”.

Kokkari is a fishing harbor of Samos Island, which has now developed into a tourist center. Still, it preserves its old traditional face, with small houses and lanes full of flowers.

Kokkari is on a small peninsula full of houses which climbs up to the top of the hill with a small harbour on one side and a superb pebble beach on the other. Surrounded by green mountains and the view out to the sea, it’s worth a journey.

In September 2020, two fires broke out at a refugee camp on Samos. three containers were burned in the area that houses unaccompanied minors. Authorities believe that the fires were intentionally set.

Greece suffers from wildfires

Greece often experiences wildfires during its dry summer months. On Tuesday, a wildfire broke out in Thessaloniki’s Seikh Sou forest, which reaches right up to the edge of the city. After a tense few hours, the fire brigade managed to cut off the fire heading toward the hotel “Philippio”, which had been safely evacuated with the assistance of the police as it was very near the flames.

The worst tragedy happened in 2018 when a series of wildfires began in the coastal areas of Attica in July. 102 people were confirmed dead. The fires were the second-deadliest wildfire event in the 21st century, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 173.

Over 700 residents were evacuated or rescued, mainly from the seaside settlements located north of the port town of Rafina, namely Kokkino Limanaki and Mati, where rescuers found 26 corpses trapped just metres away from the sea, apparently hugging each other as they died.

Boats also recovered corpses from the water, and rescued hundreds of people from beaches and the sea. Ten people drowned when the boat rescuing them from a hotel in Mati capsized. Μore than 4,000 residents were affected by the wildfires.

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