Fires are overtaking various regions of Greece as the country experiences record high temperatures. The blaze has caused evacuations 13 miles north of Athens near Tatoi, in Varympopi, Adames and Thrakomakedones, as well as in the southern Peloponnese region and the islands of Evia and Kos.
Residents are leaving their houses in droves to seek shelter from the fire, but the blaze appears to be spreading to other regions of Greece at a rapid pace.
The wildfires have started as Greece reckons with its worst heat wave in over three decades. Temperatures have reached a frightening 113 degrees Fahrenheit, causing plants and trees to dry out, worsening the fire, as Athens regional governor George Patoulis explained: “The foliage is very dense in these areas and it is very dried out due to the heatwave, so the conditions are difficult. It is a large fire and it will take a lot of work to get this under control.”
Wildfires have also developed in the southern Peloponnese region and the islands of Evia and Kos. The fire in Evia started in the forests but has quickly spread down to the beach and by the sea, leaving houses and apartments in its wake. The villages and settlements of Chronia, Sepiada, Retsinolakkos, Kalamoudi, Paliochori and Damia have all been evacuated.
“The absolute priority is the protection of human life… we are giving this battle everything we have” said Regional Governor of Sterea Fanis Spanos.
In Athens, authorities have shut down sites like the Acropolis and public and private services have closed for the afternoon.
Over 500 firefighters have been working on Mounth Parnitha, accompanied by planes and helicopters equipped with water to drop water on the fire and attempt to fight off the blaze. The wildfire is currently the strongest in Varympopi, Adames and Thrakomakedones.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with a fire brigade operations center that is working to organize the fight against the fires across the Peloponnese Peninsula and the islands of Evia and Kos.
Historic heatwave fuels fires in Greece
The heatwave that has been gripping Greece since last week broke the country’s highest-ever temperature record on Monday afternoon.
The town of Makrakomi in Greece’s Phthiotis region in the eastern part of the Greek mainland was the hottest place not only in Greece on Monday but also in the entire European continent.
The meteorological station of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) that is stationed there recorded a jaw-dropping 46.3 degrees Celsius (115.3 degrees Fahrenheit).
This temperature is officially the highest ever to be recorded in Greece’s network of hundreds of stations operated by NOA.
For the registration of a temperature record, recordings of private stations that are operated by individuals other than NOA do not count.
Extremely high temperatures were also recorded across the Greek mainland on Monday, with the town of Dendra, northwest of Larissa in Thessaly, reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
The cities of Thebes, Sparta, and Larissa also recorded temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius on Monday.
According to Giannis Kallianos, an MP and meteorologist for Greece’s MEGA TV channel, Greece held the five highest temperatures in Europe on Monday.