Greece asks EU countries to help in overcoming raging wildfire
The EU has announced it will weigh in with help to combat wildfires in Greece after Athens requested support from fellow member states, reports Helena Smith, the Guardian’s correspondent in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.
European Commission spokesperson Janez Lenarcic said four Canadair firefighting planes would be dispatched to the country from Italy and France after activation of the bloc’s civil protection mechanism.
Blazes on several fronts in the greater Athens area have stretched forces thin despite Greek authorities already being assisted by Romanian firefighters.
News of the assistance came as it was announced that fires had reignited in the area of Dervenochoria, about 30 miles north of Athens.
Fanned by shifting winds the blaze had not only proved hard to contain but had spread with such speed that several settlements were now under evacuation orders.
About 250 firefighters with the aid of 75 trucks and water-dumping planes are battling to extinguish the fast-moving conflagration. Describing the air as being so thick with smoke it was difficult to see, the mayor of Mandra, Christos Stathis, attributed the lack of firefighting planes to the pace with which the flames had spread.
“Until 4am there was no problem with fires in the wider region of Mandra,” he said. “Unfortunately the lack of firefighting planes have brought these negative results. I am in Panorama where we have issued precautionary evacuation [orders] and the fire is moving with great speed.”
Another fire in Loutraki, a resort town in the Gulf of Corinth, has also reignited according to reports.
“Right now there are several active fires and many flare-ups in Loutraki,” said the fire department’s spokesperson, Ioannis Artophios.
Meteorologists are saying that with winds forecast to increase, Wednesday will be an “exceptionally difficult” day. Predictions of winds dying down Thursday will bring relief on the forest fire front but experts are already saying what will come in their place – temperatures of about 44C – is likely to outstrip the extreme heat of last weekend, both in terms of intensity and duration.