Greece wildfires cause mass evacuations


Courtesy of The Guardian

Aislinn Jones, Staff Reporter

Massive wildfires in Greece are breaking out, causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The wildfires started in 2018, but they began to arise and become more dangerous than ever in July. These massive fires are caused by climate change and global warming, leading the European countries’ summers to become very hot and dry. This extreme weather has been urging Athenian citizens to leave the area.

The temperatures of the fires themselves have varied from 95 degrees fahrenheit to 100 degrees fahrenheit. Over the area of 250,000 acres, all of northern Athens is covered in smoke. This goes for buildings, homes, farms, vineyards, and many other domains in Greece. According to CBSNews, Cindy Thinnesse said, “We started smelling the smoke around 7:00 PM, then we saw the flames on the hill.” Later then, Cindy Thinnesse and many others decided to leave the campsite, where they were all staying at for vacation, to safety. These fires have been recurring so often that Northern Athens has lost most of their land, cutting the large island in half. Experts in Greece have stated that the land lost is irreversible damage.

Over 100 reported Athenian citizens have died from the deadly wildfires and 20 people were injured. The Coast Guard has estimated the number of citizens evacuating between July 31 and August 8 to be around 3,000 people, leaving by sea, across the country to escape to the United States or other European countries. Hundreds of firefighters from Greece have been working day and night to put out the fires with high-pressure water hoses and over 20 water-bombing planes, but still have been unsuccessful in most areas. Many countries have heard about Greece’s problem and came to their aid. The United Kingdom, France, and the United States all have sent firefighters over to Greece to help with the fires and evacuating citizens.

BBCNews has reported, “Some residents ignored the orders to try to save their villages, spraying homes with garden hoses and digging mini firebreaks.” Ignoring the orders to evacuate later had many homes burnt and destroyed. About 17,000 homes have been burnt to the ground due to these wildfires, leaving, at most, 400 Greek families homeless. Even many of the wildlife has been evacuating the forests causing them to live on the streets because they have no home. BBCNews also explained, “They’ve also rescued ‘rabbits, turtles, storks, foxes, and owls’, which they transferred to a non-profit organization that specialised in this type of creature.” Nena Ververoglou is one of the many animal rescue volunteers and has found many animals escaping their homes, coming out of the forests, and roaming in general trying to save themselves from the fires.

Since the fires have been so back to back in Evia, the citizens of Greece have started to think others were setting the fires on purpose. In early August, Aljazeera stated, “Over the past few days, several people have been suspected of starting fires deliberately, the motive for which remains unclear.” Even as these theories are still being considered, no one has been found guilty for the act.

Though these tragedies are arising, firefighters from across the world and European citizens work hard to end the evacuations.