At least three villages and a hotel have been evacuated on the Greek island of Rhodes as a wildfire in the center of the island is burning a forest uncontrollably.
The fire broke out in the area of Apollona on Tuesday evening. The village is located 50 km from the island’s capital and very close to the island’s highest mountain, Attavyros.
— Cranky MariLou (@mariad0s) July 19, 2023
It is a green area surrounded by wild pines, cypresses and the local olive groves that produce excellent quality olive oil every year.
Authorities have ordered the evacuation of the villages of Eleousa, Salakos, Dimilia, and the mountain of Profitis Ilias, where the Elaphos Hotel is located, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to contain the spread of the flames.
Hardest to control wildfire in recent years in Rhodes
According to reports from the South Aegean Region, cited by the Athens News Agency, the fire is raging out of control on at least three fronts and there are constant reignitions while the situation is considered particularly difficult.
Shortly after 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning, there was a major resurgence on the front towards Ebmonas in the west of the island just as three of the six air assets operating since the morning had gone to refuel.
The South Aegean regional authorities issued a statement for the requisition of all construction machinery and water carriers in an attempt to assist in the firefighting operations.
Experienced volunteer forest firefighters are talking about one of the biggest, most dangerous, and hardest to control fires in recent years in Rhodes because it is burning in virgin forest.
The wildfire on Rhodes comes as fires are raging in the mainland of Greece, near Athens for a third day, as a punishing heatwave is engulfing the country.
Hundreds of firefighters are battling the flames at Dervenochoria, west of Athens, which, according to the fire service is the most difficult due to the dense forest vegetation and the inaccessible nature of the area.
The blaze, which broke out on Monday about 30 km north of Athens, spread fast as it was fanned by erratic winds and reached Mandra on Tuesday, burning houses and forcing people to flee.
Wildfires intensify as heatwave hits Greece
Meteorologists are predicting that temperatures in Greece will reach 44°C (111.2°F) later in the week as an unprecedented heatwave hits southern Europe.
According to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (EMY), the heatwave will hit the country on Thursday and will culminate on Sunday.