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Greece on Fire: Wildfires Ravage Country on Multiple Fronts

Greece fire
Firefighter on Evia. Credit: Greek Reporter

The fires in Ancient Olympia and Evia that broke out on Wednesday and Tuesday respectively are still raging, burning everything in their way.

Greece’s Civil Protection and Crisis Management Minister Nikos Hardalias revealed on Wednesday evening that a total of 118 different fires across the nation had been reported in the 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hardalias also warned that the worst could very well lie ahead, as extremely high temperatures continue to prevail in the country.

Three days of fires destroyed more than half of other years’ totals

The wildfires that broke out in three days in Greece, between August 1 and August 3, burned more than 50 percent of the land area usually destroyed in an entire fire season, the National Observatory of Athens’ center ”Beyond” said on Wednesday.

The center noted that the fires on Rhodes, in Attica, on Evia, and in Eastern Mani so far in August destroyed nearly 6,000 hectares (60,000 stremmata).

Comparatively, in the entire fire season of 2020, 10,376 hectares (103,760 stremmata) of land were destroyed.

The figure for all of 2019 was 9,405 hectares (94,050 stremmata).

So far this year, the burned land area totals nearly 12,400 hectares (124,000 stremmata).

Additionally, the major fires of May through July in Egio, Samos, Stira on Evia, Kefalonia, and Schinos in Corinth added even more hectares to the destruction.

The Beyond team said it would map in detail the burned land in Greece, after analyzing the high-resolution images provided by the European Union‘s “Sentinel” satellite.

Fires continue to break out around Ancient Olympia

Fires continue to break out in the area around Ancient Olympia in Greece’s Elis (Elia) region in the Western Peloponnese, according to the deputy regional governor Vasilis Giannopoulos.

Around 11:30 AM local time, the residents of Chelidoni were ordered to evacuate their premises in order to head to safety in Latzoi.

“The main new fireline took place behind the premises of the International Olympic Academy, but planes, helicopters, and fire trucks rushed immediately,” Giannopoulos told the state-run AMNA news agency early on Thursday morning.

A large fire had broken out in the region surrounding Ancient Olympia earlier on Wednesday. Residents in five of the surrounding settlements, Herakleia, Pournari, Pelopio, Platanos, and Kafkania were ordered to evacuate their properties and find safe refuge elsewhere.

More villages evacuated on Evia island

The villages of Amelantes and Keramia were evacuated in the early hours of Thursday, the mayor of Mantoudi and Limni said.

These two settlements lie north of the main fire front of Drymonas, in northern Evia (Euboea), a popular island destination of central Greece.

The fire abated somewhat overnight, but beginning at 3:00 AM (local time) on Thursday the winds intensified and the fire began to approach houses in Amelantes.

Additional manpower has already been rushed to Evia, particularly those who were fighting the Varympompi blaze on Tuesday.

Related: “Human Dam” of Firefighters Hold Back Fire on Greece’s Evia Island

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