Attica, S. Greece fire situation improving, but Evia fire very difficult

Firefighting forces, including the army and foreign assistance, worked through the night on the largest fires raging in Greece all week, at the island of Evia, Attica and the Peloponnese, Deputy Civil Protection Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said on Sunday afternoon.

At a live briefing, Hardalias said that all possible forces available have been battling the fires, but on Evia in particular they were working against the direction of the wind, smoke, and poor visibility. At night, when airplanes and helicopters are not flying, they are being maintained, he added.

Attica: danger of rekindling
In his update, the minister said that the state of fires in Attica in the region of Mount Parnitha and east has improved, but the danger of rekindling is high. Greek firefighters, police, the army, local authorities and volunteers patrolled affected areas through the night.

In Parnitha, where the major fire of Varybobi started on Tuesday night, there are only rekindlings of fires, mostly around Flabouri – the Parnitha mountain refuge, west of Varybobi -and Katsimidi – north of the former royal estates.

Evia: difficult conditions

In Evia, firefighting forces are constantly being added to north and south on the island, which has faced severe destruction of properties. Hardalias said that all available airborne help is in the air as soon as day begins. He said that there were 17 airplanes and helicopters operating there, including the large Russian-lent Beriev water-dumping airplane.

Hardalias explained that in order for an airplane or helicopter to lift off, three questions have to be resolved satisfactorily: how they will go, how they will dump the water, and how they will leave. If one of the three is not resolved, they are not permitted to go, he stressed.

In Evia in particular, winds registering up to 4 on the Beaufort scale drove the fire to the coast. The forces battling the fire on the island included help from other countries, particularly 100 firefighters from Ukraine and 112 from Romania (with 13 fire trucks), who were assisting national and local forces.

Peloponnese: Stable but rekindlings

In the Peloponnese, he said, the situation had stabilized but there were a lot of rekindlings of fires.

On the island of Crete, a new fire broke out at Agios Thomas near Iraklio, but it posed no threat to homes or infrastructure.

Hardalias said that authorities were concerned with ensuring the infrastructure was either prevented from damage or restored, especially water and power.

“We have another difficult afternoon ahead, and another tough night,” Hardalias said, asking the public to faithfully observe orders for evacuations. “The battle is ongoing,” he concluded.