Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comGreek NewsEnvironmentWhy Greece Has Failed to Put Out the Deadly Wildfire in Evros?

Why Greece Has Failed to Put Out the Deadly Wildfire in Evros?

Evros wildfire Greece
Despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters, the Evros region in Greece is still burning. Credit: Odysseas Karadis/Greek Reporter

Greece has failed to put out the deadly wildfire in Evros in the northeast of the country that has been burning a virgin forest for more than two weeks.

Experts are trying to figure out why the particular wildfire is proving so difficult to contain. The European Commission has said that the blaze in the Dadia National Park is the largest on record in Europe.

The main reason for the failure is the dense vegetation Kostas Tsigas, president of the Union of Fire Officers, told

“Treetops are very close to each other and one overlapping the other. This is a creeping wildfire, spreading at low ground. The aircraft deployed cannot bring about the desired result since the water does not reach the lowest level,” he explained.

“Poor strategy” to combat wildfire in Evros, Greece

The blaze that began near the port city of Alexandroupolis on Aug. 19 joined with smaller fires to form an inferno that has decimated homes and vast tracts of land near the border with Turkey.

The blaze led to the evacuations of thousands of people and was blamed for twenty of Greece’s twenty-first fire-related deaths.

A Fire Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, blamed poor management of the wildfire.

“You have to see where the fire will come to you a day and a half or two later and throw forces there. In the US and Canada, they draw back lines of defense and don’t go aggressively on the fire. The first line of defense is welcome, but we have to put in the second and third, learn to live with it”, he told Kathimerini newspaper.

The official added that the focus of the firefighting forces was to protect the villages and critical infrastructures.

“The priority was the safety of people and infrastructure. I cannot leave the village or the hospital unprotected. You pick out places where you can hold, but the fire is still working in places where it can’t be seen or it’s impossible to tackle.”

Residents and local government officials also point out coordination problems when firefighters who have arrived from other parts of Greece and several other nations, who -they claim – do not know the landscape of the area on fire.

Emphasis should be on the prevention of wildfires

Kostas Lagouvardos, research director at the National Observatory of Athens, told AFP that the emphasis should be on adequate measures to prevent forest fires.

But the recurring problem, he said, was the dysfunctional relationship between the state and scientific bodies.

“The scientific tools exist and can help detect and prepare for difficult climatological conditions,” he said — such as the extreme drought that has struck the Evros region near the border with Turkey and other regions.

Opposition politicians took a similar line during a fierce parliamentary debate Thursday.

They accused the government of having been too slow to put preventative measures in place and of poor coordination between the various government agencies concerned.

Is the climate crisis the alibi for everything?

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed this week in Parliament that fires across Greece were expected to consume more than 150,000 hectares (370,600 acres) of land.

“Is the climate crisis the alibi for everything?” said Mitsotakis. “No, it is not an alibi — but it is part of the interpretation,” he insisted.

Climate change is a theme the government has touched on repeatedly in the context of the wildfires but, as Mitsotakis appeared to at least implicitly acknowledge, it is not the whole story.

He also revealed plans to deploy drones and forest temperature sensors to detect wildfires in their early stages.

The Greek prime minister outlined the government’s intentions to procure one hundred drones to monitor wildfires from the air. At the same time, temperature sensors will be installed at vulnerable archaeological sites and forests where fires could cause the most damage.

Additionally, the government plans to increase manpower. As a part of the new measures, five hundred scientists specializing in forests will be hired alongside one thousand firefighters.

“Although we were better prepared than any other year, we faced an unprecedented combination of incidents,” he added.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts