Greece’s second-largest island is on fire for the seventh day, reported a Greek news agency.
Firefighters and citizens still battle against wildfires to save their houses from flames. Blazes swept through dwellings, businesses and trees.
Thousands of residents fled their houses.
As the wildfires were massive, the sky turned orange, blocking the sun. Evia island, which is full of forests and coves, caught blazes in the northern part.
The fire in Evia island is not the only one in Greece, as the country has been witnessing tens of wildfires in the past week. However, Evia’s fire is the most intense among them.
The fire in Evia broke out on Tuesday, August 3. The country saw the worst heatwave in the past 30 years, with extreme temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.
The fire burned Greece’s largest forests, and trees as high temperatures hit the country amid a hot summer. And fires turned them into ashes.
The wildfires are beyond Greece’s firefighters’ capabilities. This led the government to seek international help. And around 20 countries in Europe and MENA region sent backups.
Nikos Dendias, Greece’s foreign minister, said he talked to the Russian counterpart, seeking backup to burn out his Twitter account. He particularly asked for Beriev Be-200 firefighting plane.
Although many countries came to the rescue of Greece, residents and local officials still grumble that there are not enough firefighters.
Some people resorted to media to seek help and water-dropping planes to come to Greece.
“We were completely forsaken,” said David Angelou, who live at Evia’s seaside. “There were no fire brigades. There were no vehicles, nothing!
“You could feel the enormous heat. There was also a lot of smoke. You could see the sun, a red ball, and then, nothing else around.”
Greece’s government reactions
Learning the lesson, Greek authorities prioritized saving lives over anything. Back in 2018, Greece witnessed huge fires, where 100 people died.
The authorities gave orders to send a significant number of ferries and boats to the coastal areas for evacuation. In 2018, people died while they get trapped on the beach and drowned.
But some, including local officials in affected areas, have argued the evacuation orders have come too soon, saying residents could provide valuable help to stretched firefighting resources in saving villages.
However, local officials emphasized that evacuation is still early.
Residents can valuably assist firefighting crews, the officials argued.
Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s Civil Protection chief, emphasized that firefighters did their best, including the reinforcements from Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia. Around 600 firefighters are dealing with fires, in addition to five water-dropping planes and five other helicopters.
Last week, a volunteer firefighter died as an electricity pole hit him in the north of Athens. And four volunteer firefighters got injured in the capital of Greek.
Dozens of residents sleep on chairs on the ferry with no power or water in the Pefki’s beach.