Firefighters in Greece have contained an ongoing large forest fire west of Athens that has destroyed many homes and forced the evacuation of the local population. Fire fighting continues in mountainous and forested areas of Rhodes, where evacuations have been ordered and a state of emergency declared on Thursday. “This hard period is clearly not over yet,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotaki said, warning of another wave of heat and strong winds. Polish firefighters are on their way to Greece.
The forest fires that have been raging across Greece since Monday are being slowly extinguished on Thursday. The fire in Boeotia, northwest of Athens, was brought under control on Wednesday night. Nine helicopters and seven firefighting planes were operating in the area, four of which were sent by Italy and France as part of an EU aid mechanism, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Firefighters are still fighting fires in the mountainous and forested areas of the island of Rhodes, the portal of the daily “Kathimerini” informs. A state of emergency was declared on the island on Thursday and some areas were ordered to evacuate, the AP added.
‘Another heatwave and strong winds ahead’
“This difficult period is clearly not over yet …, another heat wave and strong winds are ahead of us,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned on Thursday.
By Tuesday, over 10,000 hectares of forests and meadows had burned down, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) reported.
The forest fires were the result of the first summer heatwave to hit Greece. The temperature, which was above 40 degrees Celsius, has dropped slightly but has been rising again since Thursday and is expected to reach 45 degrees over the weekend, the national meteorological service said. Increasingly hot and windy summers are making forest fires, which were already a regular occurrence in Greece, even more frequent.
Polish firefighters are going to Greece
Greece in the fight against the element will be supported by Polish firefighters who set off on Wednesday from Krakow. On Thursday evening, the commander-in-chief of the State Fire Service, Brigadier General Andrzej Bartkowiak, announced that Poles would soon enter Bulgaria.
“The GFFFV module will soon enter Bulgaria from Serbia. They will spend the night there, and tomorrow it will be the last stretch to Greece,” Bartkowiak wrote on Twitter. The GFFFV module are units specialized in extinguishing forest fires with the use of vehicles. The post was accompanied by photos showing the moving column.
149 firefighters and 49 vehicles from the Małopolskie and Wielkopolskie voivodeships take part in the mission. They have to travel almost two thousand kilometers. Operations in Greece are likely to last two weeks, depending on how the situation develops.
Due to forest fires in Greece, a request for rescue assistance in the form of so-called GFFFV modules was received. The Chief Commandant of the SFS, Brigadier General Andrzej Bartkowiak, in consultation with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Mariusz Kamiński, decided to notify the readiness of Polish firefighters to provide assistance. On Tuesday evening, the Greek government accepted the offer of help from Polish firefighters.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU