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Greece Fires Continue in Peloponnese; 287,049 Acres Burned in 2021

Greece fires
The fire in Kamatriades, Northern Evia recently. Credit: Greek Reporter

Hundreds of firefighters both from Greece and elsewhere continued their efforts to put out scattered fires that continue toburn in Arcadia and in Eastern Mani, southern Peloponnese.

According to the fire brigade, there is no major fire front in the region; however, small, widely scattered fires that do continue to burn could potentially turn into bigger blazes if not contained.

Along with the firefighters, many residents of the area remain around their villages, ready to assist if needed once again.

Fortunately, the region of Arcadia saw  its first rainfall in weeks on Thursday evening, something that helped the firefighters a great deal.

More Than 287,000 Acres Burned in Greece in 2021

The meteorological service of the National Observatory of Athens issued a new statement on Friday morning in regard to the magnitude of the environmental catastrophe that wildfires have caused in Greece this year.

After analyzing data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the NOA stated that a total of 1,161,650 stremmata, or 287,049 acres, of land have been burned since the beginning of the fire season in Greece for 2021.

This represents an astonishing 448% increase compared to the average annual burned acreage between 2002 and 2020.

A total of 58 large forest fires have taken place in Greece in 2021. This gives an average of 4,942 acres being burned per large fire in Greece, putting the country at the top of the Mediterranean nations for this year.

Greece Fires: Situation Remains Critical in Peloponnese

In the area of ​​Eastern Mani, firefighters operated throughout the night and continued to work on Friday morning, mainly in mountainous areas, to prevent the risk of possible rekindling.

Laconia is still on high alert for possible fires, as the hot, dry weather conditions there could make the situation worse in the daytime.

Due to the destruction that has already been caused in the broader area, an emergency status has been declared for certain regions in five different municipalities of the Peloponnesian peninsula.

These municipalities are Gortynia, Megalopolis, Eastern Mani, Oechalia, and Pylos-Nestor.

Similarly, hundreds of firefighters remained on high alert in the regional unit of Elis (Ilia), where the fires have fortunately been put out completely.

However, the possibility of rekindling remains high, thus the authorities remain on stand-by.

Additionally, according to the regional governor of the area, Vassilis Giannopoulos, 187 firefighters from Germany with 37 vehicles are expected to start operating around Ancient Olympia in Elis on Friday to assist their Greek colleagues.

Just as Evia fires put out in north, new ones break out

All firefighters on the island of Evia will remain on high alert on Friday, as, according to the fire risk forecast map issued by the general secretariat for Greece’s Civil Protection, a very high risk of fire is predicted for the island.

Evia is classed at level 4 of this fire risk forecast map, one below emergency.

Nearly all fires that had been burning the north part of the island for days have now been put out, however, new blazes broke out south of the original fires.

In order to limit the spread of the new fire, which started in the afternoon of Friday, four firefighting aircraft, assisted by six helicopters, are currently dropping water from the sky.A total of 23 firefighters are on the scene as well.

Curfew in Greek Forests Extended to August 20

The curfew on forests, national parks, EU Natura-designated sites, and city groves introduced by the government on August 5 will be extended to August 20, Greek authorities said on Thursday.

Staying or even moving in or driving through these forested areas is banned.

This was decided to prevent accidental fires during a very dry season.

Similar accidents have contributed to the massive and destructive blazes that began on August 3 and continue today.

The same law act bans any work or leisure activity that may start a fire, such as welding and burning any material, or camping acts carrying a penalty of up to 10,000 euros ($11,743).

A total of 106 new fires broke out across Greece in the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday.

Greece Fires: Greek Premier Speaks About Climate Crisis

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke at a press conference on Thursday about the impact that climate change has had on the wildfires that continue to blaze around the country.

“The climate crisis is here and is showing us that everything must change. The facts demand bold solutions for which I am ready,” proclaimed Mitsotakis to the Greek public.

Mitsotakis opened the conference by highlighting that although the environmental and financial cost of the fires was extremely high, there was almost no loss of human life. One videographer was killed in an accident on his way to help firefighters map out where the fires were kindling.

The Prime Minister explained that the government’s top priority during natural disasters was to protect both human and animal life.

“We were able to protect thousands of people but we lost forests and properties. It is important that we did not have casualties in the largest wildfires we have encountered in recent years,” Mitsotakis noted.

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