Blazes continue to scorch the landscape of Greece as the Evia and Varympompi fires have now burned over 150 homes and 20,000 acres of land. As of press time, the residents of three more villages on Evia have been ordered to evacuate.
Shortly after 10 AM, three aerial vehicles started operating after improved visibility allowed them to resume operations.
Greek emergency services sent a message to all the residents of Koulouros and Marouli to leave their homes at 1 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon. The residents were urged to go to Istiaia. Over the last 24 hours, more than 10 villages in the area have been evacuated.
According to the mayor of the area, the number of active fires on Evia continues to grow. One blaze is moving toward the village of Kalamoudi, while another’s burning toward Kourkouli and Skepasti; there is yet another fire in Damia.
Evia, Varympompi fires burn thousands of acres, force evacuations in Greece
In the municipality of Mantoudi alone, a total of more than 150 homes have been burned, according to the deputy mayor for civil protection, Argyris Liaskos, in an interview on SKAI radio. Liascos called for the strengthening of firefighting forces by air, since for the present, the fire is burning uncontrollably.
The mayor of Mantoudi, George Tsapourniotis, spoke about the difficulty of the situation, speaking to Mega television. He stated “The fires are huge. They are not being controlled by the firefighting forces that are there. More than 20,000 acres were burned. The fire covered kilometers within 25 minutes. It has a huge length and width.”
At the moment, 95 firefighters are operating at the site with 35 vehicles, four teams on foot, accompanied by one helicopter and four aircraft, while reinforcements are also expected from the Canard type of firefighting aircraft.
According to Tsapourniotis, at least 12 villages have now been evacuated. “The fire is burning on four fronts. While two more villages were evacuated a while ago, a total of 12 have now been evacuated. The front of the fire is over 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). The situation is out of control. Houses are burning in ten different villages.”
The mayor in his post calls for the reinforcement of the air forces, while he speaks of three different fires. Tsapourniotis’ post is as follows:
“A monastery is threatened — The front of the fire in Drymonas is one of the most dangerous as it moves threateningly towards the monastery and the village that has been evacuated. Firefighters with large vehicles have set up a defense zone around the monastery and try to keep the flames away, while the monks refuse to leave the monastery.
“At the same time, the bells rang again in the village of Kourkouli, which had been evacuated since Tuesday, as the fires that took place created a very large front that moves threateningly in the wider area, so the situation remains critical for the village.”
The fire in Kalamoudi has taken on great proportions as well. “The situation is shaping up with a nightmarish scenario. Two main fronts out of control and many smaller fires as well, but also complete inability to react from the air and with ground forces. The huge flames threaten everything,” states vice-governor Dimitris Vourdanos.
76 homes in Varympompi, Greece have burned down
Meanwhile, a total of 76 homes have been seriously damaged by the fire in Varympompi, outside the Greek capital of Athens, while 41 new fires have started throughout Greece since Tuesday night, Deputy Civil Protection and Crises Management Minister Nikos Hardalias.
He made his remarks during an urgent briefing on the various wildfires burning throughout the country, held at 1 PM at the Civil Protection building “Faros”.
Regarding the situation in Varympompi, he said that this was significantly improved but the effort is continuing and fire fighting forces are continuing to operate in the area.
He added that the situation in that specific area will be contained within the day and that there was no longer a single main front but scattered fires that had rekindled; however, those did not pose a serious problem.
Giving an initial estimate of the damage, Hardalias said that 1250 hectares have been burned; 76 houses and 27 businesses have sustained serious damage, while 18 houses were partially damaged.
“Our first priority is human life. Human life is over and above anything else,” Hardalias said.
Meanwhile, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis flew over the burned areas on the foothills of Mount Parnitha in a firefighting helicopter.