Saturday, 18 May 2024
Athens
16
05
2024
Forty-one firefighters, including a ground team, 17 vehicles and a helicopter, responded. Local government water tankers assisted in the firefighting efforts. This follows a fire in the same area on Tuesday, which firefighting forces had brought partially under control.
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Athens
02
05
2024
The 10-member group from the 1st Wildfire Special Operation Unit bristles with tools needed to hold back fires: chainsaws, specialized rakes, weather gauges, computer tablets and earth-scorching drip torches to burn wildfire barriers into the hillside. Greece’s fire season officially starts May 1, but dozens of fires have already been put out over the past month after temperatures began hitting 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in late March — considerably higher than previous spikes recorded over the past decade. “It’s actually already summer for us,” Kolovos told The Associated Press during a recent training exercise. “The truth is that the fire season has started prematurely and has been extended over the last five years.” AP correspondent Charles de LedesmaS reports Greece is boosting firefighting to cope with the rising heat risk, as their fire season officially begins. This year, Greece is doubling the number of firefighters in specialized units to some 1,300, and adopting tactics from the United States to try and outflank fires with airborne units scrambled to build breaks in the predicted path of the flames. Crew members include forestry experts and firefighters with varied skills, many developed in training with colleagues in France, Spain and the United States. “We can position ourselves in optimal locations that may be difficult to reach by foot and carry out fire suppression using various specialized methods,” Firefighter Dimitris “Jim” Priftis said while assisting trainees in a region near the capital ravaged by wildfires in summer 2023. “Using water is no longer our main weapon against fires, it’s our tools,” he said. “We are taking a more scientific approach toward fires, measuring the humidity, the wind — it’s a more planned method.” Mostly funded by the European Union, Greece has launched a 2.1 billion euro ($2.3 billion) program to overhaul its disaster response capability, ordering new water-dropping aircraft, drones, fire trucks, training facilities, and an artificial intelligence-driven sensor network to detect early signs of smoke and flooding. But the new equipment won’t start arriving until 2025. Greek authorities are doubling down on training and new firefighting methods, with another tough season expected this year. Fires burned an estimated 1,750 square kilometers (675 square miles) last year, including a blaze in northern Greece that was the worst fire ever recorded in the European Union. Windy and mountainous with hard-to-reach islands, Greece faces a daunting annual challenge in defending multiple urban settlements that overlap with wooded areas at wildfire risk. It’s also getting hotter: Last winter was the warmest since modern records began in 1960, according to the National Observatory of Athens, which analyzed European Union satellite data. The six warmest Greek winters on record have occurred in the past decade. That’s against the backdrop of new data revealing that Europe is the world’s fastest-warming continent, its temperatures rising at roughly twice the global average. Standing in the main disaster response command center in Athens, Vassilis Kikilias, the minister for climate crisis and civil protection, says authorities expect annual conditions to worsen further. “It will be a very difficult fire season, a very difficult summer,” Kikilias, a towering former pro basketball player, told the AP in an interview. “We had a dry winter and fall temperatures lasting until December. So we’re facing the climate crisis head on.” Throughout the month of April, firefighters stepped up exercises and training, using new facilities like the Fire Dragon, a 1.2 million euro ($1.3 million) trailer used to simulate the inside of a burning building. Fire crews with heavy protective gear and oxygen tanks use it to practice close-quarter techniques and rescues. Close by, Fire Service regulars and trainees crawl through a mesh maze in darkness to practice working in confined spaces. Participants in full kit first workout on treadmill climbers and other gym machines, then crawl through the maze as strobe lights, smoke and loud noises are added to disorient them. “The firefighting maze helps firefighters in a dark environment, in an unfamiliar setting, in the presence of fire, to enter the area, investigate, possibly carry out a rescue and find a way out,” said Fire Lt. Col. Vrasidas Grafakos, a training center commander. “It’s to train them effectively to be ready for building fires, for front-line activity.” Retiree Chrysoula Renieri was among those who lost their homes in the 2023 fires that tore through forests on the island of Rhodes, in northeastern Greece, and areas west of Athens. Renieri visited her gutted house last week. As she walked through the blackened rooms, she described how her family felt helpless as the approaching fire cut off power and the water supply before the flames took over the house. “No one helped us and everything burned. It’s all gone.” She said she hopes the Fire Service’s new equipment and methods might make a difference to others. “I wish that would happen, so many homes could be saved,” she said. “We hope, because summer is coming again and the torment will begin.”  
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Ierapetra
07
04
2024
The blaze that broke out earlier in the day, fanned by strong winds, spread across the slopes of the mountainous forest east of the seaside town of Ierapetra. Authorities ordered the precautionary evacuation of the villages of Achlia, Galini, Agia Fotia and Mavros Kolimpos, as the blaze closed in on some homes. "The fire has subsided significantly after the efforts of hundreds of firefighters," a fire service official told Reuters. "It was the first big one near a residential area this year." Scientists fear that the season could be damaging given that Greece has just had its warmest winter on record, leaving much of the land warm and dry. Earlier in the day a fireman and a local resident were taken to hospital with minor injuries. About 150 firefighters were battling the forest fire on the ground, assisted by three helicopters. The civil protection ministry has set authorities on alert due to strong winds expected in next coming days and after dozens of smaller forest fires broke out on Saturday. Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean nation. Last year a wildfire burning in northeastern Greece for 11 days destroyed an area larger than New York City and killed 20 people.  
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Athens
07
09
2023
The rainstorms have also hit neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey, leaving 14 people dead in the three countries, including three people in Greece. Fire department spokesperson Vasilis Vathrakogiannis said swift water rescue specialists and divers from the department’s disaster response units, as well as the army, were participating in rescue efforts and were trying to reach remote areas despite roads having been washed away. The flooding follows on the heels of devastating wildfires that destroyed vast tracts of forest and farmland, burned homes and left more than 20 people dead. The flooding on Thursday was concentrated mainly in the central towns of Karditsa, where people were reportedly seeking safety from rising water levels on the roofs of their homes. More rain was forecast for later in the day. In some areas, floodwaters were higher than 2 meters (6 feet), Vathrakogiannis said. Tracked vehicles and boats were being used to help evacuate people, but the boats were unable to reach some areas due to the large volume of debris and the strength of the torrents of floodwaters. Frequent lightning meant helicopters were unable to fly, he added. Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said some areas received more than twice the average annual rainfall of Athens in the space of 12 hours. Defense Minister Nikos Dendias cut short a trip to Dubai and was returning to Greece “to oversee the greatest contribution of the Armed Forces in dealing with the consequences of the severe weather,” he announced on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis postponed his annual state of the economy speech and a news conference scheduled for the weekend in the northern city of Thessaloniki in order to visit the flooded areas. Police have banned traffic from three regions, including on the island of Skiathos, and have sent numerous emergency phone alerts to people in several parts of the country to avoid venturing outdoors and to move away from basement and ground floor areas of buildings. On Wednesday, repeated rainstorms also hit the Greek capital, flooding streets and turning part of a major avenue in the city center into a river of mud that swept people off their feet.  
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Provatonas
05
09
2023
Aircraft and hundreds of firefighters struggled for the 16th day on Sunday to contain the wildfire in the northeastern region of Evros, Europe's deadliest this summer, which killed at least 20 people, destroyed homes and scorched lush forests, including the protected Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli park. "We're finished, we're finished," said Raptis, 56, as he walked past his pen, most of its tin roofing knocked down by the fire. "There is nothing left behind. Thirtyfive animals were lost, they were burned," he said. "The rest have burns and we don't know if they can survive." The charred body of a goat lay on the scorched ground of what was left of the enclosure. One of the 19 animals who survived bleated as Raptis grabbed its face to reveal the burns on its ear. Last year, when another fire in Evros burnt half of the stable, Raptis managed to save all his livestock. But the latest blaze, which came very close to the stable a few days ago, burnt it to the ground on Saturday. "The same happened five days ago but we had made it on time, we saved them. Yesterday it was a complete destruction," he said. Summer wildfires are common in the Mediterranean nation but the government has said that extremely dry, windy and hot conditions that scientists link to climate change have made them worse this year, forcing thousands of evacuations. The blaze was largely contained on Sunday although more people were evacuated overnight, fire brigade spokesperson Ioannis Artopoios told Skai radio station. But it could flare up at any time, he added. Raptis hoped the state would offer him any kind of help. "There is no other way. How are we going to get through?"  
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Athens
05
09
2023
Traffic was banned in the central town of Volos, the nearby mountain region of Pilion and on the island of Skiathos until the storm subsides, police said. The fire department said one man was killed in Volos when a wall buckled and fell on him, while another man was reported missing, believed to have been swept away by floodwaters. Authorities also sent alerts to cellphones in several other areas of central Greece, the Sporades island chain and the island of Evia, warning people to limit their movements outdoors due to the storm. Local media reported that torrential rainfall caused streams to break their banks and turned roads into rivers, sweeping cars into the sea in the Pilion area. Greece’s weather service said the Pilion region was forecast to receive about 650 to 700 millimeters (25.5 to 27.5 inches) of rain over Tuesday and Wednesday, while 550-600 millimeters were forecast for the central town of Karditsa. The weather service noted that the average annual rainfall in the capital of Athens region is around 400 millimeters. The storm was forecast to cause heavy rainfall and storms, accompanied by hail, thunder and strong winds in the Aegean. The extreme weather comes on the heels of major wildfires that hit Greece over the past few weeks, with some burning for more than two weeks and destroying vast tracts of forest and farmland. More than 20 people were killed in the fires.
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Athens
04
09
2023
Summer wildfires are common in the Mediterranean nation but the government has said that extremely dry, windy and hot conditions that scientists link to climate change have made them worse this year, forcing thousands of evacuations. A wildfire in the northeastern region of Evros, Europe's deadliest blaze this summer, continued to burn for the 13th day on Thursday after killing at least 20 people, destroying homes and livelihoods and scorching lush forests. Hundreds of firefighters continued to battle the massive Evros blaze on Thursday, after further overnight evacuations. "Although we were better prepared than any other year, we faced an unprecedented combination of incidents," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament, citing a severe heatwave in July, Greece's longest in years, then unusually high winds. He said authorities had initiated steps to acquire more than 100 drones to monitor wildfires in real time. There are also plans to install temperature sensors at archaeological sites and in high-risk forests, while some 500 forest scientists and 1,000 more firefighters will be hired soon, Mitsotakis said. Environmentalists who advocate stronger international action to curb climate change have accused Greek authorities of spending more funds on extinguishing fires than on prevention. Mitsotakis said tens of millions of euros were spent in wildfire prevention this year but that was still not enough. "Is the climate crisis an alibi for everything? No, it's not," he told lawmakers, adding, however, that global warming had helped intensify wildfires that most of the time had been started by human negligence or arson. In a post on social media platform X, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service said the Evros fire had ravaged at least 812.6 square kilometres (313.8 square miles), larger than New York City's 778.2 square kilometres (300.5 square miles). The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said at least 30% of Greece's protected Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest had been lost. Mitsotakis said he would ask European experts to assess the causes of the fire and suggest ways to help the forest grow back.
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Athens
02
09
2023
The fire department said the group became trapped in the forest between 2 villages in the Evros region, near the border with Turkey. No injuries were reported. There was no immediate information on their nationalities. The blaze, burning for the 14th day Friday, has already been blamed for the deaths of 20 people whose bodies were found last week. All are believed to have been migrants who had recently crossed the border. Greece’s Disaster Victim Identification Team has been tasked with identifying the remains. A multinational force of more than 580 firefighters backed by six planes and two helicopters is battling the wildfire that began on Aug. 19 and within days had joined with other blazes to form the largest single wildfire in a European Union country since records began in 2000. The fire has burned homes and vast tracts of forest, scorching more than 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres). Overnight, residents of the border town of Soufli were put on alert for possible evacuation as a huge wall of flames approached. To date, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in villages and towns in northeastern Greece due to the fire, although the vast majority have since been allowed back. Greece has been stricken by hundreds of wildfires across the country this summer, with dozens of new blazes breaking out each day. The vast majority are extinguished quickly before they spread, but the Evros blaze has proved particularly tough to control. Another persistent blaze has been burning for more than a week in a national park on the slopes of Mount Parnitha, on the fringes of Athens, with more than 160 firefighters trying to extinguish occasional flare-ups. With its own firefighting forces stretched to the limit, Greece called on other European countries for help, and has received hundreds of firefighters and a dozen aircraft from France, Germany, Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Arson is suspected in some of the smaller fires that were quickly brought under control, and authorities have made several arrests across the country. But the causes of the major blazes are still under investigation. Speaking in Parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis implied — without providing any evidence — that migrants may have been responsible for the Evros fire, even though he noted an investigation into the causes is still ongoing. “It is almost certain that the causes were manmade. And it is also almost certain that this fire started on routes that are often used by illegal migrants who have entered our country,” Mitsotakis said. “We don’t know if it was negligence or deliberate.” Last week, three people — two Greeks and one Albanian national — were arrested in northeastern Greece and charged with a series of crimes for allegedly rounding up 13 people from Syria and Pakistan and forcing them into a car trailer, accusing them, without any evidence, of setting fires. Mitsotakis said incidents of vigilantism would not be tolerated. On Friday, a court in the northeastern city of Alexandroupolis ordered the three to be jailed pending trial, said Nikos Karavellakis, a lawyer representing the eight Syrians who had been sequestered in the trailer. The three suspects had been under house arrest since their arrest. Greece is one of the preferred entry routes into the European Union for people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia fleeing conflict and poverty. Those crossing the country’s land border with Turkey often use mountain and forest trails to evade authorities and head west to the main northern city of Thessaloniki. Several people, all Greeks, have been arrested in the past two weeks on suspicion of arson for allegedly deliberately attempting to start wildfires.
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Athens
01
09
2023
The fire that started Aug. 19 — part of a busy fire season for Greece — has destroyed vast tracts of forest and burnt homes, and has been blamed for the deaths of 20 migrants whose bodies were found last week in the area, which is near the border with Turkey. Allegations that migrants may have been responsible for the fire have led to some vigilantism against foreigners, though people arrested in recent days suspected of starting blazes around the country have all been Greek. The reinforcements sent Thursday to the Alexandroupolis and Evros region brought the total number of firefighters deployed there to 582, backed by 10 planes and seven helicopters from nine European countries, Greece’s fire department said. A total of 26 people, including the two-member crew of a firefighting plane, have died as a result of wildfires in Greece so far this year. Lawmakers held a minute of silence at the start of a parliamentary debate Thursday morning on the fires and the state response. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended his government’s response to the fires, and said climate change and a protracted heat wave followed by very strong winds were largely to blame for them. The political opposition alleged that the government was unprepared for this year’s wildfire season. “You left the country unprepared and defenseless against this danger,” said Sokratis Famellos of the SYRIZA main opposition party. Mitsotakis suggested migrants were responsible for sparking one of the two major wildfires that merged to burn through northeastern Greece, though he provided no evidence of that. He noted that no lightning had been recorded in the area, nor did it have electricity transmission networks that might have sparked a fire. He said an investigation is still underway, and he urged people to wait for the outcome and not to take matters into their own hands. “It is almost certain that the causes were man-made. And it is also almost certain that this fire started on routes that are often used by illegal migrants who have entered our country,” Mitsotakis said. “We don’t know if it was negligence or deliberate.” Last week, three people — two Greeks and one Albanian national — were arrested in northeastern Greece and charged with a series of crimes for allegedly rounding up 13 migrants and forcing them into a car trailer, accusing them, without any evidence, of setting fires. “If there are guilty people, we will make sure to locate them,” Mitsotakis said. “Incidents of vigilantism and self-appointed sheriffs will not be tolerated by this government.” Greece is one of the preferred entry routes into the European Union for people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia fleeing conflict and poverty. Those crossing the country’s land border with Turkey often use mountain and forest trails to evade authorities and head west to the main northern city of Thessaloniki. Several people, all Greeks, have been arrested in the last two weeks on suspicion of arson for allegedly deliberately attempting to start wildfires. Mitsotakis said the deaths in northeastern Greece were “tragic,” but noted that nobody should have been in the area as evacuation orders had already been issued. The evacuation orders are sent by push alert messages in Greek and English to all cell phones active in any given area. Thousands of people in the Alexandroupolis and Evros area have been issued evacuation orders since the fire there began, though the vast majority have been allowed back. Overnight, residents of two villages near the border with Turkey and near a wildlife sanctuary were put on alert for potential evacuation as one of the fire fronts flared up. The blaze, now burning deep in the forest in the Dadia national park, is the largest single wildfire recorded in the European Union since it started keeping records in 2000. More than 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) have been burned, according to the EU. Greece has been stricken by hundreds of wildfires this summer, with dozens of new blazes breaking out each day. The vast majority are extinguished quickly. Seeing its firefighting forces stretched to the limit, Greece has called on other European countries for help. Hundreds of firefighters from Romania, France, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Albania, Slovakia and Serbia have helped battle the blazes, along with 12 aircraft from Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France and Spain.
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Athens
30
08
2023
Fuelled by gale force winds and hot weather, the fire that began near the city of Alexandroupolis quickly spread across the Evros region, killing at least 20 people last week in Europe's deadliest blaze this summer. It turned lush greenery into scorched earth and destroyed homes and livelihoods. In a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service said the fire had ravaged at least 808.7 square kilometres (312.2 square miles). New York City takes up 778.2 square kilometres (300.5 square miles). Copernicus said last week the fire was the largest on European soil in years, and authorities said the fire was still highly dangerous. Aircraft and hundreds of firefighters on the ground, including from Albania, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, were battling the flames, the fire brigade said. "We are trying to defend the rest of the unaffected area before the front line of the fire comes," said Jiri Nemcik, commander of the Czech team. "The development of the fire is very dynamic so it's very dangerous." Satellite images highlight the extent of the destruction in the area where formerly lush pine trees have been reduced to blackened, skeletal bark. Panagiota Maragou, head of conservation at the Greece division of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said at least 30% of the National Park of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest had been lost. Because of its high biodiversity, the national park was "one of the most important protected areas in Greece and also in Europe, perhaps also on an international scale," she said. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a meeting on Tuesday on the fires that have ravaged Greece, touching on preventative measures among other issues, a statement from his office said. Environmentalists have long accused Greece of spending more funds on extinguishing fires than on prevention. "We've seen in the case of Dadia and in the case of the Evros fire in general ... one of the biggest fires in Europe, that a system that relies exclusively on suppression of fires is not working," Maragou said. Summer wildfires are common in Greece but the government says extreme weather conditions that scientists link to climate change have made them worse this year. Greece's deadliest fire on record killed 104 people outside Athens in 2018. All but one of the dead in the Evros fire are believed to have been irregular migrants who crossed over from Turkey, evading police in the forest. Authorities fear more bodies may be found when the flames are put out, as Evros is a popular crossing into the EU for thousands of migrants and refugees every year. The fires have spurred anti-immigrant sentiment in the region, according to Greece's Racist Violence Recording Network. Last week, police detained three men after a video emerged on social media showing migrants in a trailer pulled by a jeep, and a man heard urging civilians to "round up" migrants he accused of setting the fires. On Tuesday, a prosecutor launched a preliminary investigation into a separate incident after another video posted on social media showed four men, believed to be migrants, sitting on a dirt track beside a jeep, and a local man filming them, according to an official at the citizens' protection ministry. The official said the man, who appeared at the Alexandroupolis police headquarters, had been wanted for his alleged involvement in the "forcible immobilisation" of migrants.  
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Athens
29
08
2023
The fire in the Alexandroupolis and Evros areas near the Turkish border has been blamed for 20 of the 21 wildfire-related deaths in Greece last week. The fire department said 474 firefighters, backed by 100 vehicles, seven planes and two helicopters were battling the flames. The forces included reinforcements from several European countries. Authorities are investigating what sparked the blaze, which over the past week has destroyed vast tracts of forest, scorched homes and triggered the evacuation of thousands of people. The bodies of 18 people were found in an area near the city of Alexandroupolis last Tuesday, while a body had been found in a forest in the region the previous day and another was found on Thursday. The bodies are believed to be those of migrants who recently crossed the nearby border with Turkey. Greece’s Disaster Victim Identification Unit has been activated to identify the remains. A man also died last week in a separate fire in central Greece, reportedly while trying to save his livestock from advancing flames. The wildfire has scorched more than 77,000 hectares (190,000 acres) of land, the European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service said Sunday, making it one of the largest single fires ever to have struck a European country. Copernicus is the EU space program’s Earth observation component and uses satellite imagery to provide mapping data. The situation at another major fire burning for days on Mount Parnitha on the northwestern fringes of Athens appeared significantly improved by Monday, although it was still not officially under control. The fire department said 260 firefighters backed by 77 vehicles, one plane and one helicopter were still fighting flare-ups in the fire which had burned homes and entered a national park that is one of the last green areas near the Greek capital. Greece has been plagued by daily outbreaks of dozens of fires over the past week as gale-force winds and hot, dry summer conditions combined to whip up flames and hamper firefighting efforts. Across the country, firefighters were battling 74 wildfires on Monday, with 27 of them having broken out in the 24 hours between Sunday evening and Monday evening, the fire department said. Arson has been suspected in some of the blazes, with several people arrested.
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Athens
28
08
2023
Greece has been plagued by daily outbreaks of dozens of fires over the past week as gale-force winds and hot, dry summer conditions combined to whip up flames and hamper firefighting efforts. Across the country, firefighters were battling 105 wildfires on Sunday, with 46 of them having broken out in the 24 hours between Saturday evening and Sunday evening, the fire department said. Authorities are investigating the causes of the blazes, with arson suspected in some. In Greece’s northeastern regions of Evros and Alexandroupolis, a massive wildfire believed to have caused 20 of the 21 wildfire-related deaths in the past week, was burning for a ninth day. The blaze, where smaller fires combined to form one of the largest single wildfires ever to have struck a European Union country, has decimated vast tracts of forest and burned homes in outlying areas of the city of Alexandroupolis. On Sunday, 295 firefighters, 7 planes and 5 helicopters were tackling flare-ups that were creating new fire fronts, triggering evacuation orders for two villages, one in the Evros region and another in the Rodopi region. The wildfire has scorched 77,000 hectares (297 square miles) of land and had 120 active hotspots, the European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service said Sunday. Copernicus is the EU space program’s Earth observation component and uses satellite imagery to provide mapping data. Pope Francis, addressing the public in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sunday, said he wanted to express assurances that he is remembering “in prayer the victims of the fires that have burned in these days in northeast Greece.” He also expressed “supportive closeness” to the Greek people. On the northwestern fringes of the Greek capital, another major wildfire burning for days was now limited to flare-ups and was being tackled by 160 firefighters, one plane and three helicopters. The fire has already scorched homes and part of a national park on Mount Parnitha, one of the last green areas near Athens. A third major wildfire started on Saturday on the Cycladic island of Andros and was still not under control Sunday, with 73 firefighters, two planes and two helicopters dousing the blaze. Lightning strikes are suspected of having sparked that wildfire. Flare-ups were also occurring in a large wildfire in the central region of Viotia, the fire department said. With firefighting forces stretched to the limit, Greece has called for help from other European countries. Germany, Sweden, Croatia and Cyprus have sent aircraft, while dozens of Romanian, French, Czech, Bulgarian, Albanian, Slovak and Serb firefighters are helping on the ground. With their hot, dry summers, southern European countries are particularly prone to wildfires. European Union officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017. The causes of Greece’s two largest fires have not yet been determined. For some of the smaller blazes, officials have said arson or negligence is suspected, and several people have been arrested. On Saturday, fire department officials arrested two men, one on the island of Evia and one in the central Greek region of Larissa, for allegedly deliberately setting fire to dried vegetation to spark wildfires. Greece imposes wildfire prevention regulations, typically from the start of May to the end of October, limiting activities such as the burning of dried vegetation and the use of outdoor barbecues. By Friday, fire department officials had arrested 163 people on fire-related charges since the start of the fire prevention season, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said, including 118 for negligence and 24 for deliberate arson. The police had made a further 18 arrests, he said.
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