On Saturday, the authorities in north-eastern Greece evacuated the residents of at least eight villages near the city of Alexandroupoli. The following day, efforts to control the blaze continued.
The Greek fire department reported that over 130 firefighters, supported by 14 water-dropping planes and three helicopters, were facing challenges in their efforts to control the wildfire.
Additional personnel were dispatched from various regions of the country to provide assistance. The forest fire ignited in the early hours of Saturday close to the village of Melia, situated to the east of the city of Alexandroupoli.
Wildfire impacts villages near Alexandroupoli in north-eastern Greece
According to the fire service, a team of over 130 firefighters, aided by 14 water-dropping planes and three helicopters, were in a challenging battle to control the raging wildfire. Additional support was en route from different regions across the nation. The forest fire originated early on Saturday near the village of Melia, situated to the east of Alexandroupoli.
While there were no initial reports of injuries among firefighters or local residents, officials noted that certain homes in two of the evacuated villages had sustained damage.
Earlier, a significant segment of a major highway in the vicinity had to be shut down due to the dense smoke drifting across it.
Residents of Alexandroupoli likewise received advice to keep their windows shut as a precaution against smoke from the nearby fire blanketing the town.
An additional smaller wildfire was active outside Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, located in the north. Prior to this, firefighters successfully managed to bring a fire under control on the western island of Cephalonia. The fire service has issued a heightened wildfire alert for the upcoming weekend.
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On Sunday, around noon, shortly before 2:00 p.m., new evacuation messages were issued to residents of Monastiraki and Doriskos settlements via the emergency number 112 in northeastern Greece. The messages instructed them to evacuate to Feres. Similarly, residents of Amphitriti, Avanda, and Maistro were also advised to evacuate to Alexandroupolis.
Currently, there are three active fire fronts. The first is situated in the eastern region, originating from the Loutro settlement. The second fire is in the western section, located south of the settlement of Amfitritis. The third and most vigorous fire is positioned on the northern side, within the Nipsa settlement. On the other hand, the Avantos-Maistros front, bordering the city, is relatively more contained and under control.
Fears on Sunday that conflagration would engulf a petrol station in Alexandroupolis were averted by a timely intervention by emergency services.
Wildfires in Greece
Last month, devastating wildfires wreaked havoc in central Greece and the islands, leading to the compulsory evacuation of around 20,000 tourists from the resort island of Rhodes. Shortly thereafter, a water-dropping plane operated by the air force crashed while engaging in a blaze on the island of Evia, resulting in the loss of two air force pilots’ lives.
Over 600 fires swept across Greece, scorching hundreds of square miles of land and leaving thousands of tourists stranded. Recent extreme heat in the Mediterranean saw temperatures top 40C, as experts blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection of Greece Vassilis Kikilias claimed that arson was mostly to blame, commenting that the majority of the wildfires in Greece “were caused by human hands” and that they were “arsons either by criminal negligence or by intention.”