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Massive Evia Fire Continues to Destroy Greek Island

Evia fires
People spent the night on the beach in Pefki, Evia. Credit: Greek Reporter

The fires continue to ravage the island of Evia island in Greece for the sixth day on Sunday morning.

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The destruction is immense, with the entirety of the northern part of the island now being almost completely destroyed. Settlements, villages, and towns continue to be evacuated and the fire front rages from the Gulf of Evia in the West to the Aegean Sea in the East.

Mayor: ”We are waiting for our destruction to be completed”

Giannis Gkotzias, the Mayor of Istiaia raised a desperate voice about the magnitude of the destruction his area is experiencing.

In an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter the mayor showcased the desperation and pain of the people of northern Evia.  What the people are seeing now is ”the completion of a holocaust,” he noted.

”Truth be told, we could have saved much more,” he says. ”I’ve been up on the mountain from Wednesday at 2:30 PM making dramatic calls for more aircraft in the front that we managed to keep back for 30 hours.”

Evia fire Greece Pefki
A house burning in Pefki on Evia Island in Greece. Credit: Apostolos Makris / Greek Reporter

Kontzias described the dramatic turn of events when the wind changed direction and brought the fire to the northwest of Evia.

“This is the worst day for the Municipality of Istiaia-Aidipsos,” said the mayor from the fire-ravaged village of Pefki.

”We’ve been begging the State for five days to send more aircraft, we’re on our own,” he said. ”We only saw them for half a day, yesterday, after days of dramatic calls.”

The mayor accused the Greek authorities of complete and utter incompetence and neglect.

A satellite depiction of the start of the fire on Evia and the final magnitude of the catastrophe shows that something has gone very wrong indeed on the island.


”What the State is doing is a shame: All it does is send evacuation messages and nothing else,” the mayor noted angrily.

”We haven’t put out a single fire front. We’re waiting for the fire to reach the shores to say that this is over,” Gkotzias noted obviously frustrated because of the lack of aerial firefighting.

Konstantinos Pantazis, a resident of the coastal town of Limni who saved his house from the fires alone, points out a similar picture of the Greek State failing the resident of Evia during a moment of life and death.

”Nothing, no one, nothing at all. We were all by ourselves: No aircraft, no helicopters, no firefighters, nothing, just us, the volunteers.”

”I’m telling you what I saw,” he said.

”No firefighters whatsoever. I kept saying from Tuesday that the situation is going to be so bad, that the fire will only stop when it reaches the Aegean Sea, and look. That’s what finally happened,” he noted in an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, at 10:30 AM local time, 112, the European Emergency Number, ordered the residents and visitors of Pefki, Vouliki, Gouves, and Artemisio to evacuate their premises and rush towards the town of Istiaia.

Additionally, the village of Elliniko has also been evacuated. Firefighters and residents, who have remained thereafter its evacuation, are making desperate efforts to save what they can.

Evia fires
People helping an individual with mobility issues to evacuate Pefki on Evia on Sunday. Credit: Greek Reporter

Most of the residents and vacationers have gathered on the beach of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) to leave by boat since the sea is the only way out of this hell.

Dozens of fire fronts on Evia overnight

Overnight, the fire entered the town of Vassilika, as the huge flames and the thermal load prevented the fire trucks that were lined up there from Saturday afternoon to stop it.

Another front a few kilometers to the south is the one that kept burning overnight in the areas around Galatsonas, Gerakiou, and Gouves.

The fire reached more than 6 kilometers in length burning forested areas.

This front moved from a different wildfire that was raging near Agdines a few days ago.

Currently, there are hundreds of firefighters from Greece and a series of other European countries, battling this blaze.

Overnight, the fire spread from the village of Voutas to the North, passing through Monokarya.

Greece Fire Evia
Residents and firefighters struggle to contain the fire at the town of Pefki on Evia, Greece. Credit: Apostolos Makris / Greek Reporter

Firefighters with the help of earthmoving equipment tried to stop it in a river near Avgaria.

It has to be noted that the entire region of northern Evia experiences serious problems with its power, leading to frequent outages, something that hinders communications.

Europe’s Assistance to Greece Thus Far

The aid of the European Union to Greece so far has been the largest in the country’s history. Most of them are currently deployed on Evia.

Nine water-dowsing aircraft, more than 700 personnel, and more than 100 vehicles have already been deployed in Greece, according to European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

On Friday both Germany and Poland joined the other nations that had already assisted Greece by sending out 360 additional firefighters.

Up until now, Cyprus, Sweden, France, Romania, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Poland, and Spain have sent assistance to Greece.

Additionally, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine, and Israel are the non-EU member states that have also sent help.

Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary was in Greece in the previous days and saw the situation by herself. On Saturday morning, she ordered British firefighters to join the efforts of their Greek and other European colleagues.



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