In an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter on Sunday, Giannis Kontzias, the mayor of Istiaia – Aidipsos on northern Evia issued a dramatic warning asking for more help to fight the devastating fire on the island.
Evia fires: “This is the completion of a holocaust”
In a statement that showcases the desperation and pain of the people of northern Evia, Kontzias said that what the people are seeing now is ”the completion of a holocaust.”
”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.”
Kontzias described the dramatic turn of events when the wind changed direction and brought the fire to the northwest of Evia.
”The wind turned the fire towards the Municipality of Istiaia Aidipsos, multiplying the fronts,” he explains.
‘”We need more aircraft”
”I’m making a dramatic appeal (to the Greek authorities) to bring aircraft.”
”Very few of them arrived yesterday, but they were inadequate. Today, only seven of them are operating particularly near Artemisio,” the devastated mayor explains.
”One after the other our villages fall. One municipal unit after the other is being destroyed completely. What’s saved has been saved by volunteers and the soul of the residents of this land,” Kontizas noted.
”They remained the last ones to save something from their homes, something from which we’ll be able to hold onto in order to stay and live in this land.”
The day after
“Our children will never see the environment and our land in the same way we saw it,” the mayor stated. The mayor of northern Evia made a grim prediction. He stated that in order for this area of Greece to return to its former status, it will take decades.
”We’ll be struggling for decades to bring northern Evia back to what it used to be,” he says, adding that they owe it to this land to do the best they can.
”The day after will have both financial and environmentally disastrous consequences,” Kontizas notes.
Please support the Evia fire victims here: Gofundme.com/f/help-evia-greece
The mayor thanked everybody for their love and assistance and made a pledge for anyone who can assist in any way to do so.
The magnitude of the destruction could have been avoided
When asked about whether such a devastating catastrophe could have been avoided, the mayor was clear.
”I don’t know if it could have been avoided, but I am sure that with a different approach, it could have been contained much better,” he says.
”We could have saved more, we could have had a more satisfying result in terms of putting out fires,” he adds.
”We didn’t put out a single fire. We were waiting for the fire fronts to move around the two municipalities of northern Evia and finally to end on the sea,” he explains, portraying a worrying picture that challenges directly the Greek government’s ability to deal with the disaster.
”This is the reality, no matter how harsh,” he concludes.
Dozens of fire fronts on Evia overnight
The fires continue to ravage the island of Evia island in Greece for the sixth day on Sunday morning.
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.
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.
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.