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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsEnvironmentOver 230,000 Acres Reduced to Ash as Greece Continues to Fight Fires

Over 230,000 Acres Reduced to Ash as Greece Continues to Fight Fires

Greece fires
Fire on Evia. Credit: Georgios Krokos / Greek Reporter

By Monday morning, more than 230,000 acres of land had been burned completely by fires across the nation of Greece.

These parts include the north of Evia, the north of Attica, and Laconia in the southern Peloponnese, as well as every other fire that broke out in the country in 2021, including Ancient Olympia, Grevena, and Rhodes.

This was announced by the meteorological service of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) on Monday afternoon.

Evia Fires: The Largest Destruction in History of the Island

Please support the Evia fire victims

According to a NOA statement from Sunday evening, the burned areas on the island of Evia cover more than 115,000 acres but this could very well change upwards as the fires on the island are still raging uncontrolled.

27,000 acres is the size of the destroyed land in Laconia, and 20,000 acres in northern Attica.

The NOA analyzed high-resolution satellite images that were released by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Additionally, and according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) of the European Union, 38 percent of the burned land on Evia was forest, with 24 percent being other forms of natural areas with vegetation other than forests.

Both in Attica and in Laconia, 7 percent of the areas that were burned were forests.

Neither the EFFIS nor the NOA specifies what the remaining areas were, but from the pictures we have seen, we assume that they probably were farms and grasslands.

Situation in Evia remains critical: Asmini, Avgaria, Kamatriades, Galatsona threatened by blazes

The situation remains difficult on the Greek island of Evia, as small and large active fire fronts remain active in many parts of the north.

The entire northern half of the island continues to be covered by thick smoke, making breathing extremely difficult in many areas of the island.

Additionally, gas stations run low on gas, making driving in the area extremely difficult for many.

The villages of Kamatriades and Galatsona are the main areas where firefighters, Greeks and those sent from other countries, are focusing their efforts on Monday, with the assistance of aircraft and helicopters.

The flames have approached the edges of both villages on Monday. The village of Kamatriades has become the new major front of the fire, where firefighters work alongside residents of the town to block the fire from spreading.

Using bulldozers and other construction vehicles used for public works projects, firefighters have set up a boundary to help prevent the fires from damaging homes and other buildings.

Residents of Kamatriades have also begun cutting down trees with their own chainsaws, hoping to prevent them from becoming fuel for the flames to spread and gain height.

Specialty helicopters have arrived in Kamatriades to drop water over large swathes of burning forests in the village.

The Fire brigade worries that if the fire gets out of control there, will then pass into a densely forested area, which will make the situation much more difficult, putting the town of Aidipsos in danger.

The fire, which is moving extremely quickly, has also inched dangerously close to the village of Istiaia, which has a population of over 5,500 people, and is only one town over from Aidipsos, which is home to over 6,000 people.

The fire in the village of Asmini, which is near Istiaia, is considered one of the most dangerous, as it is gaining force quickly and could easily spread to the surrounding villages.

A blaze rekindled in the nearby village of Avgaria, and the flames were able to spread very quickly due to a recent uptick in winds in the area. The blaze is so powerful in the area that firefighters are facing great difficulty in even approaching the front.

A group of nearly 50 firefighters, and 10 special vehicles, sent from Serbia are struggling alongside Greek firefighters to control the flames in Avgaria.

In the southern front of the fire, the main effort of the Fire Brigade is to stop the fire from spreading to mount Kantili.

Most of northern Evia remains without power as the damages to the grid are extended. Specialized crews from other parts of the country have rushed to the area to fix these issues and bring the power back to the island.

Mayor in Evia, Greece: “Our children will never see the island like we did” after fires

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.

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.

”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.”

“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.

Fires continue to rekindle across Ilia, Greece

Fires that had once died down have now rekindled across Ilia, in the Peloponnese, western Greece.

A particularly large fire has picked up again in the region of Vasilaki, and seems to be spreading toward Xirokampo, which is part of the regional unit that include the site of Ancient Olympia.

In Ilia, firefighting forces are pushing back the blazes with the help of specialty aircraft.

Due to the sharp increase in rekindled fires in Ilia on Monday, firefighting forces stationed in the region have been informed to stay vigilant due to the possibility of more fires cropping up.

The situations in the areas of Olympia, Foloi, Oleni, and Pyrgos in Ilia have all been deemed “critical emergencies” by officials due to the fires there.

The flames that plagued much of Ilia have spread to neighboring region Arcadia, where firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze.

Speaking to AMNA, Christos Lampropoulos, vice regional governor of Arcadia, stated that the “situation with the fire remains difficult” in the area of Gortynia.

The flames in Gortynia spread to the region from a large fire in Nemouta, which is located in Ilia.

“The fire has approached many residences, including Livadaki and Toumpitsi, but there are many firefighting forces in the region” who are working to prevent the fire from reaching homes, Lampropoulos continued.

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