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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsEnvironmentFire at Vilia, West of Athens, Raging for Third Day

Fire at Vilia, West of Athens, Raging for Third Day

Vilia Athens Fire
The fire near Vilia, west of Athens, brings back haunting memories of the recent catastrophe in the island of Evia. Credit: Greek Reporter/Konstantino-Balalas

The fire near the town of Vilia, west of Athens, is raging on Wednesday for a third day despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters that try to stop the blaze reaching the town.

According to regional governor of Attica, Giorgos Patoulis, the fire front extends to an area of some 20 kilometers.

Deputy regional governor in charge for Civil Protection Vassilis Kokkalis told state ERT TV that the situation was out of control, as the “fire is burning very dense forest and we cannot approach. There is no access to ground forces and the area is so big that cannot be covered by the aerial means either.”

The Fire Service told the official Athens-Macedonian News Agency that the front in Vilia is worrying because it burns a forest in the area of Mount Patera, especially the area between Paleochori and Oinoi.

Several settlements in the area have been evacuated, but many local men defied the order and stayed behind to help protect their homes and businesses from the fire.

Ground fire fighting forces are assisted by eight helicopters and three aircraft.

Satellite imagery from Tuesday published on Twitter by the European Commission’s defense industry and space department showed a giant plume of smoke from the Vilia fire extending south for hundreds of kilometers along the entire length of the Peloponnese.

Catastrophic fires in Evia and north of Athens

Greece has been roiled by hundreds of wildfires in August, on the heels of its most severe heat wave in decades, which left its forests tinder dry. Other Mediterranean countries – Turkey, Italy, Algeria and Spain among them – have suffered similar problems.

Two major fires in Greece that began in early August, one on the island of Evia and another in a national park north of Athens.

The environmental devastation from the fires in northern Evia is enormous, according to a statement issued by the meteorological service of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA).

According to the NOA, a total of 126,023 acres (51,000 hectares or 510,000 stremmata) has been burned on the island of Evia.

The fires in August claimed the life of a volunteer fireman. In 2018, 102 people died in the fire at Mati, east of Athens, which was the second-deadliest wildfire of the century after the 2009 bushfires in Australia which killed 173 people.

The fire at Mati also counted as the sixth-deadliest in the last 100 years.

Scientists say there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme weather events.

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