Firefighters Struggle to Contain Widespread Wildfires Across Greece

Firefighters in Greece are facing an arduous battle against 82 wildfires that have been raging across the country.

The situation worsened on Sunday, which marked the hottest day of the summer so far, as 64 new wildfires erupted, further exacerbating the crisis.

Among the severely affected areas are the islands of Rhodes, Evia, and Corfu, where thousands of residents and tourists have been forced to evacuate.


Mass Evacuations on Rhodes, Evia, and Corfu


On the island of Rhodes, an unprecedented number of people, including around 16,000 residents and 3,000 tourists, have been evacuated by land and sea.

The situation prompted Greece’s Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection to declare it “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country’s history.”

Authorities on Evia directed residents of four southern villages to evacuate to the town of Karystos, as the fire relentlessly advanced.

Central Greece vice-governor Giorgos Kelaiditis described the challenging conditions, with thick smoke, strong winds, and low visibility making the evacuation efforts difficult.

The island of Corfu also faced wildfires, leading to more evacuations on its northeast side. The old Athens-Patras national road, a major route along the coast, was cut off due to the fires.

As Greece’s economy heavily relies on tourism, the wildfires have posed additional challenges.

The popular island of Rhodes, a favorite destination for many European tourists, saw its hotels and villages engulfed in flames, leading to the cancellation of flights by travel companies like TUI and Jet2.

Thousands of tourists were left stranded, and emergency repatriation efforts have been initiated.


International Support and Climate Change Concerns


The European Union has provided substantial reinforcements, including firefighters and airplanes, to assist Greek authorities in tackling the wildfires.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed the EU’s solidarity with Greece in handling the devastating forest fires, attributing the heatwave and wildfires to climate change.


Weather Forecast and Ongoing Efforts


While a brief respite from the extreme heat is expected on Monday, temperatures are forecasted to rise again later in the week.

The Greek Meteorological Service predicts a drop in temperatures by Thursday.

As the wildfires continue to pose a threat to Greek islands, firefighting teams from different countries, including the Czech Republic, France, and Turkey, have joined the efforts to combat the blazes.

Climate change concerns 

The wildfires in Greece have created a significant humanitarian and environmental crisis, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people from affected regions.

As the situation remains challenging, international support and cooperation are crucial in combating the fires and mitigating their impact.

Climate change concerns also call for urgent actions to address the underlying factors contributing to these devastating wildfires.


Lead Photo credit: Alexandros Avramidis / Reuters