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Greece on Fire!

Posted by feww on August 23, 2009

Athens Fires May Torch Marathon!

At least 100 forest blazes have started throughout Greece in less than a day torching the worst record set in 2007, officials said.

Fires in Greece
Up to 80 large forest fires torch Greece. The worst blazes are occurring in areas where homes are built among trees, reducing the forests, natural resistence to fire. Photo AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Summary of events:

  • Fires are spreading through northern suburb of  Athens, the Greek capital.
  • The government has  declared a state of emergency in the area.
  • The fires have spread as far north as the towns of Grammatiko and Varnavas, and are also threatening the town of Marathon.
  • Thousands of hectares of forest, farmland  and olive groves have been blackened; many homes and structure have been destroyed.
  • Gale-force winds are intensifying the blazes, which started late Friday, intensifying  overnight through Saturday
  • Fire crews are trying to prevent the fires from reaching Pendeli, a famous suburb of the capital with spectacular view of Athens.
  • “Much of Pendeli mountain was destroyed in 2007, and further erosion of the treeline would be an ecological disaster,” the BBC’s reporter in Athens said.
  • The 2007 forest fires on mainland blackened 6% of Greece’s tree cover, killing 70 people.
  • “The fires are further contributing to the deforestation of the mountains around Athens. Three of the four mountains surrounding the capital have already been stripped of their trees by fire,” BBC added.
  • In July thousands of hectares of forest and farmland were incinerated across the Mediterranean in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, aided by heat waves and dry conditions.

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5 Responses to “Greece on Fire!”

  1. JPG said

    Deadly fires devastate multiple Holiday resorts near Athens

    Massive wildfires raged through holiday resorts near Greece’s capital, killing about 100 people in Attica region, and leaving scores of others injured, while thousands more fleeing into the sea.

  2. msrb said

    Ravaging of Athens “lungs” revealed by fires
    Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:01am EDT
    By Dina Kyriakidou

    ATHENS (Reuters) – Among the acres of forests in the outskirts of Athens reduced to cinders by a three-day inferno, expensive villas with pools have appeared.

    “Every time there is a fire we discover new communities we never knew existed,” Greenpeace Greece director Nikos Haralambides told Reuters. “We have a state that just keeps legalizing unauthorized development.”

    A public prosecutor has ordered an investigation into whether arson was behind the fire that destroyed about 150 houses and thousands of acres of woods and farmland.

    Although Mediterranean forests often burn in dry, hot weather, Greeks who have watched their capital expand dramatically into nearby valleys and mountains are convinced greedy developers are behind many of the fires.

    “It’s time to put an end to this sick and dangerous phenomenon,” said the conservative Kathimerini daily in its main editorial. “Construction must no longer be allowed in the capital’s much-afflicted lungs.”

    Athens was a village clinging to the foot of the Acropolis when it was declared the capital of the new-born modern Greek state in 1834, and it has now thrown its tentacles across the surrounding mountains of Parnitha, Hymettus and Pendeli.

    Rural workers have flocked to the city looking for employment in recent decades and the demand for housing has overtaken urban planning. Many buildings were put up first and legalized later by governments eager to secure votes.

    “The pressure to build homes inside the forest is enormous, especially in the outskirts of the city,” Haralambides said.

    A recent city plan for Athens plans to turn about 62,000 acres of what was mostly farm and forest land into urban areas.

    With construction a main driver of Greece’s slowing economy, measures to boost activity would bring political gains to the conservative government which trails the socialist opposition as it faces an election by March.

    Environment and City Planning Minister George Souflias, under fire for building a holiday home near Athens without a valid license, has vowed all the burned Attica forests will be replanted.

    “The application of the law ensures that where there was forest there will continue to be forest,” he said.

    Ecologists say that as the forests recede, life in the Greek metropolis of nearly 5 million people will become more oppressive with rising pollution, summer heat and winter floods.

    “It is a huge environmental disaster,” forestry expert Nikos Chlykas told Reuters. “The political cost of not taking measures is now bigger than the cost of not legalizing illegal construction.”

  3. feww said

    Fires near Athens recede after 3-day inferno

  4. feww said

    Civil Protection Mechanism activated to fight forest fires in Greece
    Source: European Union (EU)

    The European Commission has activated the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection following major forest fires

    Due to the extreme weather conditions and severe forest fires Greece today activated the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection and requested assistance with aerial means. The most dangerous fires are in North-East Attica. Within one hour Italy offered help with two Canadair CL-415 amphibian water-bombing aircraft. In addition, upon a request by the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), France is ready to mobilise two Canadair CL-215 airplanes of the European tactical reserve of fire fighting aircraft (EUFFTR), which was established this summer to assist Member States facing major fires. Cyprus offered to send a fire fighting helicopter.

    The EUFFTR planes assisted the Member States in extinguishing forest fires already four times since it became available in July 2009. Earlier this week the EUFFTR completed a five days-long intervention to deal with devastating blazes in Portugal.

    Stavros Dimas, the EU Commissioner for Environment and Civil Protection, said: “The European reserve of forest fire fighting aircraft, established with the support of the European Parliament, again proves to be a great example of European added value by filling the aerial fire fighting capacity gap in the most difficult situations.”

    Background information:

    The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) is operated by DG Environment in the European Commission. It is the operational heart of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection. It is available on a 24/7 basis, and provides countries access to the community civil protection platform. Any country affected by a major disaster – inside or outside the EU – can launch a request for assistance through the MIC.

    During emergencies the MIC plays three important roles: serving as a communications hub for the exchange of requests and offers of assistance; providing information on civil protection preparedness and response to participating states as well as a wider audience of interested stakeholders; supporting co-ordination of the provision of European assistance. In 2008 the EP earmarked € 3,5 million for the pilot project “the European forest Fire Tactical Reserve”, with two Canadair CL 215 fire fighting aircrafts available this summer to assist Member States.

    Further information:

  5. feww said

    “Four more fires broke out on Saturday, on the islands of Evia, Skyros, Rhodes, and central Greek Viotia area and another raged on the island of Zakynthos in western Greece.”

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