Firefighters continued their efforts to put out the fire front in a ravine near Platania, part of an extensive fire that broke out in central Evia on Tuesday morning, while authorities pitted additional support on the ground and by air against it.
The fire is burning the boundaries of a wildlife refuge northeast of Platania, one of four villages evacuated after the fire was fuelled by strong winds that have hampered firefighters these past days. There are no roads or footpaths in the sanctuary and the fire revived overnight on Wednesday despite efforts during the day.
Additional fire fronts that were under partial control have been rekindling in central Evia, adding to the difficulty of operations.
Since there are no other large fires in Greece, where the summers are high-risk fire seasons, existing forces were supplemented with additional help, including three aircraft contributed through the voluntary RescEU program for EU member-states facing natural disasters, especially fires.
Forces supplemented by RescEU
Right now there are a total of 382 firefighters – 172 of whom are footpath units – and 98 fire trucks, 5 aircraft and 5 helicopters from the Greek armed forces, two Italian and one Spanish airplanes, a coordinating airplane and a mobile operation center (“Olympos”). Additional contributions include the Greek army’s 8 units on foot, 4 large-project machinery; the region’s and local governments’ 10 water vehicles and 8 large machinery; the Forestry Service; the emergency ambulance service EKAV; and 38 volunteer firefighters with 6 private vehicles.
The Fire Brigade said that although the outlook was better on Thursday than the past two days, it would take several days to put the fire out, as its perimeter is essentially out of control. They also said they were keeping abreast of a forecast for stormy weather in northern Greece today, concerned about winds rising again.
Heavy machinery contributed to creating buffers around villages and the town of Psahna, where the fire zone kept the flames from reaching the town. Four cars were reported burned at Psahna but no deaths or serious injuries have been otherwise reported so far.
Firefighters, working around the clock for almost two days, were all replaced by 09.30 on Thursday.
Destruction of 2,268 hectares confirmed
The fire broke out at a dense pine forest in central Evia – part of the Natura wildlife refugee network – which has been completely destroyed.
According to satellite data of Meteo weather service at the National Observatory of Athens, up to 12.45 on Wednesday, nearly 22.68 square kilometers (2,268 hectares or 22,680 stremmas) have been incinerated in the Mt. Dirfy-Messapies area of Central Greece. The Observatory expects the figure to rise, as the fire continues to burn.