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Wildfires Continue to Burn Out of Control in Greece

Greece wildfires
Credit: Vassilis Papanikitas / Greek Reporter

Friday found the regions of Attica, and Evia, Greece still ablaze, with the wildfires that rekindled in the Varympompi region on Thursday afternoon still raging out of control.

The fire in Attica has spread for several kilometers and has entered the town of Afidnes, where homes, businesses, and factories have been set ablaze.

Two big explosions were recorded on live TV by SKAI on a road in Afidnes, where a local business was being consumed by the flames at the time.

Residents flee Limni, Evia by boat due to fires

Fires blazed through Limni, in northern Evia on Friday, causing residents to flee their homes.

The entire town of Limni had to be evacuated by boat, as there was no other way to escape — the village is surrounded by flames on all sides.

In Dafni, a village near Limni, residents and firefighters were trapped by the flames. After battling the flames, firefighters were able to allow the residents to escape.

Similarly, the entire village of Kerchies is surrounded by the fire, and the road that leads out of the town has been engulfed in flames.

The town of Mourtia is also threatened by the massive blaze currently ripping through North Evia, and has been evacuated.

Additionally, a new fire near the village Rovies, which was mostly destroyed after a fire ripped through the town earlier in the week, seems to be heading back to the town.

Firefighters there are working tirelessly to prevent the fire from destroying anything that had been spared by the earlier flames.

Areas across Greece evacuated due to fires

During the course of the night, the flames had managed to cross the barrier of the national highway between Athens and Lamia toward Kapandriti, near the tollbooth.

On the other side of the fireline, flames reached the town of Ippokratios Politia.

A new message, via the European Emergency 112 number, was sent on Friday ordering the evacuation of the towns of Kapandriti, Malakasa, Sefndali, and Polydendri in northern Attica.

The areas of Thrakomakedones, Stamata, Rodopoli, and Varympompi, just north of Athens, have also been evacuated.

Citizens and visitors received an emergency alert saying that ”If you are in Malakasa or in the village of Sfendali evacuate now towards Oropos using the Athens-Oropos road.”

Those in Polydendri and Kapandriti received another message on Friday, telling them to evacuate toward Varnavas and Nea Makri via the Marathonas-Kapandriti road.

Additionally, people who reside in Varnavas, Kalamos, Markopoulo, Oropos, Milesi and Agioi Apostoloi, are urged to shut their doors and windows and shield chimneys to avoid sparks from entering their premises.

Horses evacuated to Olympic Equestrian Center

Areas in Attiki that are currently engulfed in flames, such as Ekali, Varympompi, and Agios Stefanos, were home to many stables and equestrian centers.

The Hellenic Equestrian Federation has aided in the evacuation of countless horses and ponies there, which were transported to the Olympic Equestrian Center in Markopoulos, away from the flames.

According to a statement released by the Federation, there are a total of 300 horses, ponies, and donkeys at the Equestrian Center, and more are expected to arrive.

Stables and equestrian facilities in Avlonas have also been evacuated, and the animals housed there will be taken to Boeotia to escape the wildfires in much of Greece.

“In these difficult times that our country, and Attica, are going through with the disastrous fires, those in the Greek equestrian community have joined forces to protect our companions, horses,” the Federation wrote in a statement Friday.

Strong Winds Expected to Make Greece Wildfires Worse

Winds are expected to be much stronger compared to the conditions that prevailed across Greece during the previous days of the fire.

These northerly winds will drop the temperature significantly, which won’t exceed 39 degrees Celsius on Friday in most parts of the mainland.

However, these winds will make the efforts of the firefighting teams across the nation much more difficult.

Winds in the region of Attica will reach 5-6 (up to 31 mph) on the Beaufort scale on Friday, with stronger gusts expected locally. This is a significant change compared to a maximum of the 2-3 of the Beaufort scale that was prevailing on Wednesday and Thursday.

Air Quality in Athens Remains Dangerously Poor

In the meantime, the air quality in Athens remains extremely low due to the cocktail of extremely high temperatures and smoke from the wildfires in Greece.

For this reason, the Greek Ministry of Health along with the Medical Association of Athens issued a guide for citizens to follow.

According to the guide, when fires break out, even if people are several kilometers away from the scene of the fire, smoke and noxious particles can still reach them and affect their health.

The groups at high risk are those with asthma or other respiratory diseases, people with cardiovascular disease, the chronically ill, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and smokers.

Exposure to smoke from a wildfire may cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, cough, bronchitis, and worsen or trigger asthma attack symptoms, and in some cases cause respiratory distress, such as shortness of breath.

The guide also notes that people with underlying diseases may face heart rhythm disorders and in extreme cases, cardiovascular events resulting in death.

People who belong to all these groups are strongly advised by the Greek authorities to stay indoors, shut windows, and avoid unnecessary travel at all costs.

 

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