Greece’s Ongoing Battle: 6 Days Fighting Ferocious Fires

Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle deadly blazes in Greece on Thursday for the sixth day in a row as temperatures remain high.

Devastating flames continue to progress on the foothills of Mount Parnès where the largest forest is located at the gates of Athens, and have threatened for two days an important national park which is home to many species of birds, according to firefighters. In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, “there was an explosion of fire” in the area, announced the spokesman for the fire brigade, Yannis Artopoios, on the public channel ERT.

The front line of operations is in an area that mixes forest and urban fabric, about twenty kilometers north of the Greek capital, he explained. On Wednesday evening, Athenians residing in certain central districts could see from their balconies or windows flames and a blaze on the wooded hills near the capital. During the day, the Athenian sky was heavy with thick smoke and ash in some places.

The most important front was in the north of the country where a huge fire that started on Saturday near the port city of Alexandroupoli now forms a unified front of more than 15 kilometers. The bodies of 19 suspected migrants, including two children, were found in the area this week.

Authorities have warned that as the region is a major entry point for migrants from neighboring Turkey, there are likely to be more casualties among those seeking asylum in the European Union. A third major fire occurred in Boeotia, north of Athens, where a thousand-year-old Byzantine monastery, Osios Loukas, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, narrowly escaped destruction on Wednesday.

High temperatures associated with drought and in places strong winds will persist until Friday, according to meteorologists. The thermometer should show up to 38°C this Thursday in some parts of the country. The Minister of Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, warned on Wednesday that the country was going through the worst summer of fires since the introduction of fire risk maps in 2009. “This is an unprecedented situation”, a- he assured.

Violent fires have already ravaged certain tourist islands such as Rhodes, Corfu and Euboea at the end of July due to a long wave of heat waves with temperatures in places having exceeded 45°C.

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