The Evia fires of August 2021 produced mayhem, misery and devastation, but they also brought forth some extraordinary firefighting stories and tales of true heroism. Among the many heroic acts by firemen, volunteers and locals helping put out the inferno, is that of an Evia fireman who lost his house while helping others save theirs.
Kostas Tsamouras, a professional firefighter from northern Evia, was at the front of the first fires, helping fight them while his own village was being consumed by the flames. He was putting out fires in a neighboring village when he learned his village’s church was burning down.
Then he found out his own house had been destroyed by the fire.
“I could not save my own home, but I helped save many others in the village,” Tsamouras told Greek Reporter after its ceremony last week, distributing $172,078 to 54 beneficiaries in the northern Evia Municipalities of Mantoudi-Limni and Istiaia-Edipsos.
Evia firefighter loses home while saving others
“I was assisting with the fire-extinguishing efforts of my colleagues. The fire was absolutely furious, the situation was tough,” he recalls of those grim days, adding that he believes that the only good thing from this disaster was that no human life was lost to the fire. “The state services and the fire departments in the area evacuated the villages in time, so we had no victims to the fire,” he explains with evident relief.
Tsamouras knows that there has been criticism about the fact that the early evacuations in Northern Evia led to many homes — and fortunes — being lost to the fire. Still, he believes, the alternative would be unthinkable. “Homes and fortunes can be recreated, people cannot,” he says simply.
The firefighter would like to remind the public that firemen are not only necessary in the fire season. “We are needed during the winter as well, because we are the ones dealing in the aftermath of extreme flooding, which usually follows massive fires,” he explains.
Greek Reporter’s fundraising for Evia directly distributed to recipients
Last Wednesday, September 22, Greek Reporter directly distributed the funds directly to fire victims, bypassing any state bureaucracy and verifying the identity of all the recipients who had been gravely affected by the fires. The team of journalists from Greek Reporter, who were in Mandoudi, spoke to city officials and some of the recipients of the aid after they received their funds, which had been donated by individuals and entities around the world.
In most cases the beneficiaries had been left homeless, as their main residence was completely destroyed by the fire. Others saw their livelihoods destroyed, since they depended on the forest — which was almost completely destroyed — to survive. All of the beneficiaries are residents of the municipalities of Istiaia-Aedipsos and Mantoudi-Limni and in dire need of support as a direct result of the fires.
With the help of local authorities, the Greek Reporter team on the ground identified 54 individuals who would share equally the total amount of all the funds raised. All of the beneficiaries and/or their legal representatives (in some cases the beneficiaries are elderly and cannot leave home) were granted the funds in the form of bank checks in their names.