Last week’s massive wildfire that started in densely-forested Mount Penteli just outside of Athens burned over 2,750 hectares or about 6,800 acres.
New damage totals are in from the blaze, which took hundreds of firefighters two days to contain and is now a suspected arson case.
The European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service provided the totals for the number of hectares burned—most was forested area that had been set for reforestation after previous fires.
Mount Penteli Fire Destroyed Homes, Businesses
The wildfire also badly scorched 54 houses, five businesses, seventeen warehouses and one religious structure, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
While the fires that sparked from the initial blaze haven’t been officially linked to arson and could have occurred due to strong winds and high temperatures, arson cannot be ruled out as a potential cause, officials said. On Thursday, an arson suspect appeared to have been caught on camera.
The fire, which began on the slopes of Mount Penteli, led to evacuations of the towns of Anthousa and Drafi.
Resources expended were substantial: The fire department said 485 firefighters were assisted by 28 ground teams and several volunteers, as well as by 120 fire engines, three water-dropping planes, and five helicopters. All of those were needed to battle the numerous blazes in Pallini, Anthousa, Penteli, Drafi, and certain areas of Geraka.
At least thirty-four people were hospitalized with breathing problems or minor burns, and nine settlements were evacuated. One hospital and the National Observatory of Athens were also evacuated, and police helped at least six hundred residents out of fire-stricken areas.
After Penteli Fire, More Blazes Broke Out Across Greece
More wildfires ignited in the ensuing days across Greece, and on Saturday, four large fires cut a path of destruction, burning homes and businesses, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate, and scorching protected forests and parks.
Strong winds and temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit) fanned those flames in Evros in the east and on the island of Lesvos in the northern Aegean Sea. In Grevena in northern Greece, a fire ignited in a remote mountainous area while land and air firefighting teams battled a wildfire in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese.
It has been a particularly damaging year for wildfires in Greece. And the four fires on Saturday came four years to the day that devastating blazes in the seaside Athens resort of Mati left 102 people dead and some 250 injured while roughly 2,500 homes were burned or damaged.