Even the smallest embers that are hidden from the eyes of firefighters can turn into quite intense flames. If it reaches larger clusters of vegetation, we have a big problem – said Brigadier Grzegorz Borowiec, commander of the action in Greece, where Polish firefighters have been helping to extinguish extensive forest fires since Saturday on TVN24. The air temperature in the area exceeds 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. The firefighter noted that working in such conditions is the “biggest challenge”.
Polish firefighters arrived in Greece on Friday evening. They were accommodated in a fire school in Vilia. This greatly facilitates their logistical situation, because they do not have to set up a tent and prepare containers. Although, as they emphasize, they always have them in reserve just in case.
On Saturday morning, a briefing was held with the liaison officers of the Greek Guard. Polish firefighters were assigned tasks in the vicinity of Mandra and Stefani.
Greek State Fire Service spokesman Vasilios Vatrakoyannis said Friday was “another difficult day with 52 new fires across the country”. According to data from last Tuesday, over 10,000 hectares of forests and meadows burned down. On Thursday, a large forest fire west of Athens was brought under control, which destroyed many homes and forced the evacuation of the surrounding population. On that day, the fight against fires, among others, in the mountainous and forested areas of the island of Rhodes continued, where a state of emergency was introduced and some areas were ordered to be evacuated.
Action Commander: even the smallest embers can turn into quite intense flames
As Brigadier Grzegorz Borowiec, commander of the action, said on Saturday on TVN24, so far “half of the fire extinguishing vehicles, i.e. 12 out of 24”, and the rest “are waiting for the situation to develop”. – With the help of firefighting planes, we managed to control the largest front of the fire and now we have to catch it all, put out the smaller embers that are in the area – he explained.
A firefighter reported that “there are gusts of wind every now and then.” – They cause that even the smallest embers, which are hidden from the eyes of firefighters, can turn into quite intense flames. If it reaches larger vegetation clusters, then we have a big problem, because it develops instantly. It can move several dozen or several hundred meters in a minute – he said.
Brigadier Grzegorz Borowiec admitted on TVN24 that “the temperature is extreme”. – If we take into account the temperature in the open sun, we have a really huge problem. This is the biggest challenge, operating in such high temperatures. Exposure to dehydration, heatstroke are the problems we fear the most – he added.
The temperature in Greece exceeds 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. According to the state meteorological service EMY, on Friday at noon in Attica near Athens, 41 degrees C was recorded, and 44 degrees – in Thessaly in the center of the country. Meteorologists there estimated on Friday that Saturday and Sunday “could be the hottest July weekend in 50 years”. On Sunday, the temperature can reach 44 degrees C in Athens and 45 degrees in Thessaly.
In the Greek capital, the record temperature of 44.8 degrees Celsius was recorded in June 2007, while the absolute record for the whole of Greece was recorded in July 1977 in Eleusis near Athens, where it was 48 degrees.
It is an area with narrow, winding roads
Also, the spokesman for Polish firefighters who put out fires in Greece, junior captain Łukasz Nowak, in an interview with the Polish Press Agency, emphasized that “the worst is the heat – it’s like heat pouring from the sky, incredible heat.” – But also the increasing wind and specific vegetation rich in essential oils – he added.
Firefighters point out that terrain conditions are an obstacle in the operation. – It is a mountainous area with narrow, winding roads. We have trucks, so this access is also not as fast as in urban areas – said Nowak.
Mission of Polish firefighters in Greece
Poles set off to Greece on Wednesday with Krakow. 149 firefighters and 49 vehicles from the Małopolskie and Wielkopolskie voivodeships take part in the mission. On the way, they had to cover almost two thousand kilometers. They are to stay there for about two weeks, depending on how the situation develops.
In connection with forest fires in Greece, a request for rescue assistance was received in the form of the so-called GFFFV modules. 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 assistance.
Main photo source: Twitter/National Fire Service