Since 17 July 2023, multiple wildfires have started in Greece. They have resulted in at least 28 deaths[1] and injured 75 people, with over 80 wildfires being recorded. Seventy-nine people were arrested for arson.[2]

2023 Greece wildfires
Dervenochoria fire as seen from Ilion, at approximately 2 am on 18 July. These are not flames but the glare from the fire due to the camera settings. The fire is behind the mountains.
LocationAttica, Central Greece, Corfu, East Macedonia and Thrace, Evia, Peloponnese, Thessaly, Rhodes and Western Greece
Total fires80+
Cost€600 million (2023)
Burned area1.800.000 sq. km²
Cause2023 European heat waves
Human negligence or arson (suspected)
Buildings destroyedHotels, residences, schools and barns.
Non-fatal injuries75+

High temperatures reached 41.0 °C (105.8 °F), with highs anticipated to reach 45.0 °C (113.0 °F) in Rhodes.[3] Forecasters were suggesting that the heatwave engulfing Greece was set to be the longest in its history, lasting up to 16–17 days, surpassing the 1987 heatwave. It was also expected to be the hottest July recorded in more than 50 years.[4]

Following a series of heatwaves and wildfires taking place over Europe, wildfires in Greece started on 17 July 2023. The Greek government established a Crisis Management Unit to respond to the situation. A wildfire which started on the Greek island of Rhodes on 18 July led to the evacuation of four locations, including two seaside resorts. Approximately 2,000 people, including tourists, were safely evacuated by sea, accounting for less than 10% of the island's tourist accommodations, according to the Fire Corps spokesman.[5] On 22 August, eighteen bodies were found in a forested area of northern Greece; initial reports suggested those who died may have been migrants.[6] Additionally, as days passed with more land being burned and property being destroyed more and more, civilians started complaining about the lack of strength in Greece's firefighting capabilities—something that they attribute to government mismanagement.

Cause edit

According to a senior climate crisis official, 667 fires were caused by "human hand", blaming either negligence or arson.[7] 79 arrests were made as of late August.[2] By 25 August, officials had arrested 163 people on fire-related charges since the start of the fire prevention season, including 118 for negligence and 24 for deliberate arson, and the police had made a further 18 arrests according to government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis.[8]

Intense winds exacerbated Greece's wildfires, sparking over 50 new blazes amid hot, dry weather; casualties include two deaths and two injured firefighters on August 21, 2023.[9]

Impact by area edit

Attica edit

Three major wildfires broke out in the area of Attica on 17 July, in Kalyvia, Loutraki, and Dervenochoria. Greek authorities directed villagers to evacuate their homes in southern Athens. On 20 July, wildfires reignited in Athens as a result of wind, which forced an evacuation effort in the city. On August 22, another major wildfire broke out near Fyli, in a monastery. The 25km/h strong winds made it very difficult to put out and resulted in the area being evacuated. The fire progressed during the night and on August 23 it reached the Parnitha mountain. On August 24th the fire was put out. The fire destroyed a few homes.

Corfu edit

On 23 July, mass evacuations were ordered in Corfu following major wildfire breakouts on the island.[10]

People in Rou, Katavolo, Kentroma, Tritsi, Kokokila, Sarakiniatika, Plagia, Kalami, Vlachatika, and Kavalerena were told to evacuate and move to Ipsos, whilst people in Viglatouri and Nisaki were advised to evacuate to Barbati.

Evia edit

In Karystos, the flames reached a height of 20 metres (66 ft) and the mayor asked for increased use of aerial vehicles in extinguishing operations. A man was reported to have died from heat stroke as a result of the wildfires on the island of Evia.[11] On 25 July 2023, a Canadair CL-215 crashed in Karystos, killing its two pilots,[12] with a similar incident that happened almost 15 years to the day in the same area with the same casualties.[13] Later the same day, a 41-year-old shepherd was found charred in an inaccessible area outside the village of Platanistos in Karystos.[14]

Magnesia edit

Two major wildfires broke out in the area of Magnesia on 26 July, in Almyros and near Velestino. The fires managed to reach Nea Anchialos Air Base and the Industrial Zone of Volos. Many F-16s were ordered to move from Nea Anchialos Air Base to Larissa Air Base for safety reasons.[15] The wildfire reached an ammunition warehouse and several explosions occurred, triggering the evacuation of the Nea Anchialos town.

Rhodes edit

The island of Rhodes suffered multiple wildfires, which resulted in over an estimated 19,000 people being evacuated by land and sea.[16][17] Emergency alerts were sent to residents on the island to warn them of the wildfires and to evacuate.

The fire department in Rhodes stated the fires there prompted the "largest evacuation operation" ever on the island, with the fire department using 10 firefighting airplanes, eight firefighting helicopters, over 260 firefighters, 49 fire trucks and hundreds of volunteers, among others, to tackle the blaze on the island.[18]

Authorities declared a state of emergency on 20 July 2023[19] in three municipalities of Rhodes, including Lindos, which is home to many tourist villages.

On 21 July, the Civil Protection ordered the evacuation of the village of Laerma, which is about 10 km from the coastal tourist resorts.

On 23 July 2023, it was announced that 1,200 extra people would be evacuated from the villages of Pefki, Lindos, and Kalathos.[20] Flights to Rhodes from British package holiday company were cancelled until 30 July 2023 and from TUI until 26 July 2023.[20]

On 2 August, the Ministry of Tourism lifted the state of emergency on Rhodes and offered complimentary travel accommodations to tourists who were evacuated from the island in the previous month.[21]

Alexandroupolis edit

A major fire started near the city of Alexandroupolis in eastern Western Thrace on August 21. The fire was stated to be "the largest recorded in the EU" up to this time by EU officials, with around 73.000 hectares (730 square kilometers) burnt.[22][23] Most of the burnt area is concentrated in the Dadia Forest. Several migrants died when they got trapped by the flames near the Dadia Forest. As of the 28th of August the vast majority of the Dadia forest as well as the surrounding pine forests have been destroyed with more than 80,000 hectares (198,000 acres) scorched.[24] On the island of Samothraki a power outage occurred because of the Alexandroupolis fire. The general hospital of Alexandroupolis had to evacuate its patients. The fire had almost reached the hospital.

Kavala edit

A major fire is also raging near the city of Kavala.

Parnitha edit

There is also a major forest fire near the infamous forest of Parnitha close to Athens. Several homes have been burnt to the ground. Because of the fire most of Athens is experiencing heavy smog. In combination with other major fires in Greece most of Greece is experiencing some form of smog.

International assistance edit

The European Union announced that more than 450 firefighters and seven airplanes would be deployed to help the situation in Greece, with 81 firefighters, 26 vehicles, and three planes specifically helping the situation in Rhodes.[25]

On 23 July, in response to the wildfires in Rhodes, the UK Government announced that they would deploy a Rapid Deployment Team consisting of responders to support British nationals on the island, being based at Rhodes International Airport.[26]

Bulgaria edit

Bulgaria deployed 70 firefighters with 14 vehicles to assist Greece.

Czech Republic edit

Czech Republic deployed 79 personnel (firefighters and other), 33 vehicles and a helicopter with 6 personnel.

Croatia edit

Croatia deployed a firefighting plane as part of EU assistance.

Egypt edit

Three firefighting helicopters were deployed from Egypt.[27]

France edit

Two firefighting planes were sent by France.[28]

Israel edit

Israel sent two firefighting planes to assist in fighting the fire.

Italy edit

Italy sent two firefighting planes as reinforcements.[28]

Jordan edit

Jordan sent four firefighting helicopters to Greece.[29]

Malta edit

Malta sent 20 firefighters to Greece.[30] This was the first time that Malta had sent firefighters abroad.[31]

Poland edit

Poland deployed 149 firefighters, along with 49 firefighting vehicles.

Romania edit

Romania sent 130 firefighters, with 25 firefighting vehicles, deployed alongside their Greek counterparts.

Serbia edit

Serbia sent 38 firefighters, along with 14 vehicles.[32]

Slovakia edit

31 firefighters, along with 15 firefighting vehicles, were deployed from Slovakia.

Turkey edit

Two firefighting planes and one helicopter were sent by Turkey at the request of the President.

Reactions edit

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis thanked European civil protection agencies for their assistance in helping the situation.[33]

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^, Συντακτική Ομάδα (25 August 2023). "Έβρος: Άλλος ένας μετανάστης νεκρός στις φλόγες κι ένας από παθολογικά αίτια - Μάχη με τις αναζωπυρώσεις". (in Greek). Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b Andre Rhoden-Paul (25 August 2023). "Greece wildfires: 79 people arrested for arson". BBC. Londres. Retrieved 25 August 2023. Greece has called out "arsonist scum" after police made 79 arson arrests over wildfires ravaging the country
  3. ^ "Rhodes Wildfires: Situation expected to get worse in 45C heat, Authorities warn". Sky News. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Greece faces hottest July weekend in 50 years, forecaster says, as scores of wildfires rage". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 22 July 2023. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  5. ^ Nellas, Demetris (22 July 2023). "Greek wildfires: Thousands of tourists evacuated as wildfire rages on island of Rhodes". Nzherald. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Greece wildfires: Eighteen bodies found in Greek forest". BBC News. 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  7. ^ "Most fires in Greece were started 'by human hand', government says". The Guardian. 28 July 2023. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Hundreds of firefighters battle raging Greek wildfires". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media. Associated Press in Athens. 27 August 2023. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  9. ^ Smith, Maxine (16 August 2023). "FirstFT: US presses Iran to stop selling drones to Russia". Financial Times. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Corfu latest Greek island to evacuate over wildfires". 23 July 2023. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  11. ^ Gecsoyler, Sammy (22 July 2023). "Heatwave set to be Greece's longest as extreme weather continues in Europe". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  12. ^ Robertson, Kirsten (25 July 2023). "Plane crashes and bursts into flames fighting wildfires on Greek island". Metro News. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  13. ^ "Almost 15 years to the day, a small Greek island is rocked by identical plane crashes". Metro News. 25 July 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  14. ^ "Νεκρός σε δύσβατη περιοχή βρέθηκε ο κτηνοτρόφος στην Κάρυστο" (in Greek). Πρώτο Θέμα. 25 July 2023. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Νέα Αγχίαλος: Εικόνα διάλυσης - Από τις βάρκες του 112, στις εκρήξεις της 111 Πτέρυγας Μάχης". 28 July 2023. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  16. ^ Smith, Helena; Chrisafis, Angelique (23 July 2023). "Greece carries out its biggest ever evacuation as wildfires rage on Rhodes". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  17. ^ "La Grecia brucia, migliaia di persone in fuga dal Paese". 24 July 2023. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  18. ^ "Largest evacuation operation ever on Rhodes says fire department". BBC News. 23 July 2023. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  19. ^ "State of emergency declared in three areas in Rhodes as wildfire rages". Kathimerini. 20 July 2023.
  20. ^ a b Adams, Charley (23 July 2023). "Rhodes fires: Jet2 and TUI flights cancelled as British tourists in limbo". BBC News. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  21. ^ Hughes, Rebecca Ann (4 August 2023). "Greece offers free vacations to tourists evacuated from Rhodes wildfires". Forbes. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  22. ^ "Firefighters in Greece struggle to control wildfires, including the EU's largest blaze". AP News. 24 August 2023. Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Firefighters in Greece Are Struggling to Battle The E.U.'s Biggest Wildfire Ever Recorded". Time. 24 August 2023. Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  24. ^ "Πυρκαγιά στον Εβρο: Νέα δορυφορική εικόνα της καταστροφής – Πάνω από 808.000 τα καμένα στρέμματα". Kathimerini. 29 August 2023. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  25. ^ "Over 450 firefighters and 7 airplanes from 🇪🇺 have been operating in #Greece as fires sprout across the country". Twitter. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  26. ^ "BREAKING: British Government have sent a Rapid Deployment Team to Rhodes". Twitter. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  27. ^ "I want to express our gratitude to Egypt for sending 3 firefighting helicopters". Twitter. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  28. ^ a b Associated Press, Voa News with (18 July 2023). "France, Italy Send Firefighting Planes to Greece as Wildfires Burn Around Athens". Voa News. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  29. ^ "I want to express our sincere appreciation to Jordan, for sending a total of four firefighting helicopters to Greece". Twitter. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  30. ^ "Our gratitude goes out to Malta, for sending 20 firefighters to Greece and reinforcing our efforts on the ground". Twitter. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  31. ^ "Maltese firefighters deployed to fight wildfires in Greece". Times of Malta. 16 July 2023. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  32. ^ "Mitsotakis thanks Serbia for assisting Greece's firefighting effort". Tanjug. 27 July 2023.
  33. ^ Agencies, Daily Sabah with (23 July 2023). "Greece thanks Türkiye for helping it tackle raging forest fires". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 23 July 2023.

External links edit