Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle the wildfire in Evros, north-eastern Greece which has been burning for the tenth consecutive day.
The wildfire that has been burning the Dadia Forest, a national nature reserve.
On Monday 180 additional firefighters were sent to the region. A total of 474 firefighters are operating with 16 teams on foot and 100 vehicles, assisted by 4 aircraft and 2 helicopters.
“We are protecting Dadia,” the Fire Brigade spokesperson, Yiannis Artopios, said in statements to public broadcaster ERT.
The fire north of the coastal city of Alexandroupolis, combined with smaller fires created a blaze that has destroyed homes and caused multiple evacuations of villages and of the city’s hospital.
Eighteen migrants have perished in the wildfire. Their charred bodies were discovered by firefighters in the Dadia Forest.
More than 282 square miles destroyed by the wildfire in Greece’s Evros
With more than 282 square miles burned, the combined blazes “are now the largest wildfires on record the EU has faced,” European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We must continue strengthening national and collective prevention and preparedness efforts in view of more brutal fire seasons,” he tweeted.
A large portion of the Dadia Forest has been burned, and it is feared that several species of animals and birds have been affected. Surveys have recorded at least sixty species of mammals, twelve species of amphibians, twenty-nine reptilian species, and over a hundred butterfly species.
There are also anywhere between three to four hundred different plant species; birds include the black vulture, Egyptian vulture, and Griffon vulture.
After initial protection in 1980, in 2006, the Dadia Forest became a national park, protecting an area of some 428 sq km (165 sq mi).
Some of the fires are burning in steep gorges and are difficult to access. Canadair airplanes and Erickson helicopters taking off from the Alexandroupolis airport have been of help there.
The wind velocity has dropped compared to previous days but continues to feed the fires, and some fires have even been rekindled.
The mayor of the nearby town of Soufli, Planagiotis Kalakikos, referred to the forest’s role as a source of living for several professions in the area, including for woodworkers, beekeepers, and tourism professionals.
“In the last decade, we have seen a drop of 22 [percent] in demographics, and obviously the intensity of natural disasters, besides damaging the environment, affects the local economy,’ he reported. “The fire will be put out, but we must also see to the day after also.”