Yesterday afternoon, new blazes broke out at Aspropyrgos outside Attica and in Parnitha, a few kilometers northwest of Athens. Suburbs at the foot of the mountain were evacuated late on Tuesday, when a fire was reported in Fyli, and earlier today in Dardiza, Agia Paraskevi, and Amygdaleza, and Rodopi.
Fires have repeatedly ravaged Parnitha in 2005, (August 24) 2007, and in 2021.
At the same time, smoke from the Parnitha fire has made breathing conditions in the Greek capital very difficult. The national weather service said the air quality in Attica “was seriously burdened due to the fire in Parnitha”.
Fire-related fatalities in Greece have now reached 20, 18 of which refugees and migrants who were in hiding in the forest of Dadia, one of the country’s largest forest preserves, near Alexandroupolis, where the fire has remained uncontrolled for days.
Earlier today, Migration Minister Dimitris Karidis issued a statement on the death of “at least 18 migrants” adding that “Greece denounces the murderous activities of criminal smugglers”.
According to a briefing today by Deputy Spokesperson for the Fire Department, Ioannis Atofios, the fire service has made efforts to contain at least 209 new fires over three days. Fires continue to burn in Parnitha near the Olympic Village, Alexandroupolis at Dadia Forest, Kavala, Fthiotida, Viotia, Thiva and Rodopi, he said. The Civil protection ministry said 93 forest fires and 142 urban fires had broken out in the last 24-hour period.
According to Wednesday’s Fire Risk Map released by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, the very high risk for fire (category 4) remains in place for Attica, which includes the wider Athens area.
Speaking to SKAI television, Secretary General of the Greek Firefighters Federation, Nikos Lavranos said fire fighters were exhausted, describing the situation on the fronts as “war”.
“We have been fighting a hard battle for 1.5 months. We are at war. Unfortunately, the blazes are destroying natural wealth every day, as we also lose human and animal lives. We have exceeded our limits, we are working in the red,” he said.
In the meantime, as under the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which Greece activated on Tuesday, EU members have been sending aid. “Greece, you are not alone, the EU is with you. We are coordinating emergency assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to help fight the devastating wildfires. So far, eight aircraft, 40 vehicles and 246 firefighters have been deployed from eight countries,” said the European Commission via its twitter account.
The fires this month come after the massive blaze on Rhodes which burned for over a week in July and forced the evacuation of thousands of tourists. According to post-disaster assessment of the fires on Rhodes released today by the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, Risk & Recovery satellite mapping reveals that 83 percent of the total burnt area showed moderate to high damage.
On Wednesday, the US Mission in Greece warned US citizens of ongoing wildfires and of the continuing high risk of wildfires in many regions of the country. The “high risk of fire is expected to continue in the coming days. US citizens should exercise extreme caution in affected areas. Wildfires may create additional disruptions in the wider areas, such as power and/or water outages, poor air quality, and road closures,” said the natural disaster alert.
Strong winds and high temperatures are expected to continue into Thursday.
*In case of fire you are advised to call the 112 emergency hotline.