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One Dead as Wildfires Rage in Greece

wildfire Greece Alexandroupolis
Some 200 firefighters, assisted by 16 water-dropping aircraft, volunteers, and police, are battling the blaze near Alexandroupolis. Credit: AMNA

One person died on Monday from at least three major wildfires that rage in Greece. According to police, the victim is an elderly shepherd who rushed to his sheepfold to save the animals from the blaze near the village of Prodormos, in the prefecture of Viotia, central Greece.

Firefighters rushed to the scene where they found the elderly shepherd dead, although the fire had not yet reached the sheepfold. It is likely that the thick smoke caused his death.

“The front of the fire is very large and very strong winds are blowing. We are trying to contain it,” the mayor of the nearby city of Thebes Giorgos Anastasiou told AMNA.

According to the mayor, a settlement has already been evacuated, as the flames are less than one kilometer away from the residential area.

A second wildfire broke out on Monday near the town of Psachna on the island of Evia. According to the Fire Brigade, the fire is burning forest and farmland.

A total of 20 fire engines with a 62-member crew, three teams of firefighters on foot assisted by 3 firefighting aircraft and one water-dropping helicopter are operating in the area.

A message was sent by 112 emergency number to the residents of Psachna urging them to be on alert and to follow the authorities’ instructions as a wildfire is in progress in their area.

Wildfire in north-eastern Greece rages for third day

Meanwhile, several villages have been evacuated on Monday near Alexandroupolis, north-eastern Greece where a large wildfire rages for a third day.

The wildfire has already destroyed several homes but there are no reports of serious injuries to firefighters or residents. Some 200 firefighters, assisted by 16 water-dropping aircraft, volunteers and police, are battling the blaze.

The forest fire ignited in the early hours of Saturday close to the village of Melia, situated to the east of the city of Alexandroupolis.

The emergency number 112 on Sunday afternoon sent a message to the residents of three settlements, Avantas, Amfitriti and Maistros, to evacuate and move towards the city of Alexandroupolis. Earlier, 112 sent a message to the residents of Monastiraki and Doriskos to evacuate towards Feres.

According to the latest information from the Fire Brigade, the fire is in full progress on three main fronts with the largest southeast of the village Loutros heading to Monastiraki and Doriskos.

In the area are blowing strong winds up to 7 on the Beaufort scale that make the condition very difficult and dangerous.

Meanwhile, police have again suspended traffic on Egnatia Odos Kipi-Alexandroupolis due to the wildfire. Traffic has been interrupted from Ardani interchange to the Industrial Zone of Alexandroupolis interchange in both directions. Traffic is diverted to Feres-Alexandroupolis motorway.

A new message via the emergency number 112 was sent on Sunday to the citizens of Alexandroupolis to stay indoors with closed windows and doors due to the smoke.

Greece’s minister for civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said Sunday that firefighters, police, army personnel and volunteers were “waging an intense battle” in the Alexandroupolis area, and called for extreme public vigilance throughout the country Monday.

“No outdoors work that could trigger a fire will be permitted,” he said. “We must all protect our country.”

There is an extreme risk of fire (category 5) on Monday for the regions of Attica, eastern Greece (Viotia and Evia) and for northeastern Peloponnese (Corinthia and Argolida), according to the Fire Risk Forecast Map issued by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection at the climate crisis and civil protection ministry.

Additionally, there is a very high risk of fire (category 4) for several more regions of Greece.

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.”

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