Greek firefighting forces are still battling a wildfire that has been burning for sixteen consecutive days at Mount Papikio in Rhodope of Northern Greece, the Hellenic Fire Service said on Monday.
Three hundred and twenty firefighters with thirty-one fire engines and twenty ground teams have been operating in the area. They are being assisted by the Greek armed forces and local authority.
The wildfire, which erupted on October 22nd, is burning its way through a beech and oak forest, moving across steep and inaccessible regions on the Greek-Bulgarian border.
— Tolcarin (@Tolcarin) November 3, 2022
The Mount Papikio wildfire broke out under unknown circumstances.
Wildfire passed through Bulgaria
The wildfire passed through Bulgaria last Wednesday afternoon on November 2nd, burning dozens of acres of forest area. The residents of Kirkovo, Bulgaria are expressing concerns about the course of the wildfire.
At the same time, residents of Rhodope can’t hide their anger at the fact that the wildfire has not yet been extinguished but continues to burn the mountainous area, as it has not yet been brought under control. A few residents are also critical of the fact that several major Greek media outlets have not mentioned the wildfire at all despite its size.
Ashes reached the doors of Rhodope residents
Residents in Porto Lagos, Xanthi who also have direct visual contact with the wildfire are expressing their dismay while fishermen are calling attention to their colleagues as aerial vehicles operating on the fire front pump water from the area.
Residents of Rhodope claim that the ashes from Mount Papikio have reached the doors of their homes.
Firefighters of Thrace continue to post photographs on social media expressing their disappointment at the outcome of the wildfire despite their ongoing efforts.
Mount Papikio wildfire an ecological disaster
The wildfire is currently burning a virgin beech and oak forest of great ecological significance. Thus far, at least 11,500 acres have burned of which 8,500 are on Greek territory.
The general secretary of Civil Protection Greece, Vassilis Papageorgiou, has been in Rhodope since Thursday, November 3rd.
He explained that “the helicopters were hired until the end of the fire fighting season on October 31, [and] contracts cannot be extended.”
“All aerial vehicles come from a strain of the six months of the fire fighting season, as there are planned maintenances, breakdowns and not everything is available immediately” he added.
Nikos Tsalikidis , the deputy governor of Rhodope, spoke of the ongoing wildfire and called for further assistance, as the difficult terrain of the area makes the mission to extinguish the wildfire quite challenging.
“The difficult battle for the demarcation of the fire on Mount Papikio continues,” Tsalikidis said. “The difficult terrain of the area and the rekindling of fires make the work of extinguishing difficult despite the efforts of the Hellenic Fire Service. We have requested further assistance from aerial means, which are important for dealing with this difficult fire.”