Devastating forest fires are raging on the Greek island of Euboea. Residents there are defending their own possessions against the flames. They feel abandoned by the government.
In a massive show of strength, residents on the Greek island of Euboea, together with firefighters and volunteers, saved several villages from the spread of the flames on Monday night. Although houses on the outskirts of villages such as Artemisio, Gouves and Pefki burned down, the village centers are so far intact, reported the newspaper “Kathimerini”. However, many villages are still surrounded by flames.
Although the wall of fire had already moved toward the villages by Sunday afternoon, there was little or no air support in some areas, according to residents. The Greek civil defense chief Nikos Chardalias justified this in the evening with the bad conditions – the extremely strong smoke development had limited the visibility in such a way that some operations had been impossible.
Islanders strongly criticized the lack of support: “I’m already out of voice, so many times I’ve asked for additional firefighting planes. I just can’t stand this situation anymore,” the mayor of Mantoudi, Giorgos Tsapourniotis, told Skai TV. Many villages have only been spared the flames so far because residents stayed despite evacuation orders and kept the fires at bay with garden hoses, Tsapourniotis reported.
“The state is absent,” Jannis Selimis of Gouves also said. “If people leave, the villages will burn. We are alone in God’s hands.”
On Monday morning, satellite images in the north of the island showed slightly fewer pockets of fire than on Sunday – presumably because most of the forest has now burned and the flames can no longer find fodder, the Skai television station reported. The extent of the damage varies so far, but the only consensus is that it is enormous. Several Greek media cited an area of 50,000 hectares.
New heat wave
The weather will make the situation even more difficult in the coming days: from Monday, a new heat wave will begin in southern Europe, with temperatures rising to over 40 degrees in many places. Heat waves will also be a topic at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will present its new report on the state of knowledge about global warming today, Monday. In doing so, it wants to dispel any last doubts about man’s responsibility for climate change.
The report by 234 international experts deals, among other things, with the risk of extreme events such as the recent heat waves in Greece and Turkey and the floods in Germany.