About 40 volunteers are prepared to form a human chain to stop the fires from reaching Kamatriades village in northern Evia.
Armed with fire extinguishers, they are vigilantly waiting for the flames to reach Kamatriades, ready to battle with them, believing that they will win in the end.
The wildfires in Evia continue to rage for almost a week now, with the northern part near the point of total destruction as whole villages have been engulfed by flames.
Small towns, villages and small communities have been evacuated, as dozens of houses have been destroyed by the wildfires.
The fire front rages from the Gulf of Evia in the West to the Aegean Sea in the East, literally cutting the island in half.
As of Monday, more than 160,000 acres of forest land in Greece have been reduced to ash, with more to be destroyed as the fires continue to burn.
Hundreds of firefighters from Greece and volunteer firemen from abroad battle with the flames, while residents who have become homeless blame the state for negligence.
Yet there are about 40 young people from Kamatriades and all over Greece who stubbornly want to challenge the destructive blazes.
Volunteers from all over Greece in Evia
The youths who are determined to not let the flames each Kamatriades are from all over Greece, with several from Athens among them.
Many have brought fire extinguishers with them, while the Municipality of Istiaia has supplied the rest of the young volunteers.
Most of them are in their late teens, a generation that has seen their youth stolen from them after ten years of recession, the coronavirus pandemic and now the wildfires that devour the green of Greece.
It is a gargantuan task to be in a firefighter’s shoes in circumstances like these, but the young men and women – boys and girls most of them – are here to take the risk.
Dimitris Savopoulos, a 19-year-old local, says that it is time for them to take things in their own hands and not wait for the state to save their homes.
“We’ll do everything we can to stop the fire from burning our homes, like it happened to other villages,” he tells Greek Reporter.
For Dimitris, Kamatriades and the surrounding area is his home and his livelihood. If the land burns down – like the fires in Evia do – his family and he will have nothing left.
“This is our life. If we lose this, we lose everything. I will stay here all night to protect my home,” he says.
Fires keep burning in Evia
Wildfires in Evia continue to burn, while in otheparts of Greece are mostly under control. The strong winds that are characteristic of the island make the work of firefighters even harder.
Along with the determination, there is bitterness too. The locals feel like the state has let them down, that it has put the task of extinguishing the fires in Evia in the backseat in favor of other places that suffered.
Yet, the spark in the young people’s eyes seems much stronger that the sparks that fly in the air, spreading the fire in Evia, burning more and more trees.
The young volunteers who came to put out the fires in Evia are from other parts of Greece. They left the comfort of their homes and came here to fight against an enemy much stronger and unknown to them.
But it is these uneven battles that make one stronger.