Greece fighting biggest ever wildfire in EU

Athens, Aug 24 (EFE).- Multiple wildfires have been raging for six consecutive days in Greece, including one in the northeastern region of Evros, which on Thursday became the largest blaze ever recorded in the European Union.

“With more than 73,000 hectares burnt, the fires in Alexandroupolis are now the largest wildfires on record the EU has faced,” Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

A joint effort of 138 vehicles, two seaplanes, four helicopters, and a total of almost 500 firefighters were trying to contain the fire that broke out Saturday near the town of Alexandroupolis, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the border with Turkey, said Giannis Artopios, spokesman for the Fire Brigade.

During a press conference, the Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, pointed out that on Thursday morning, they detected nine attempts to start fires near Parnitha, adding that there have been arrests.

“What is happening is not only unacceptable but obscene and criminal,” Kikilias said, assuring that those responsible will be brought to justice.

The public prosecutor’s office of the Supreme Court of Greece requested Wednesday an investigation into whether the severe fires in the Evros region were started by a criminal organization.

The National Observatory of Athens warned of the health risk posed by the high concentrations of microparticles recorded even hundreds of kilometers away from the fire fronts.

“The air will remain toxic for a long time after the fire. The smoke and what is emitted from it remains in the atmosphere and becomes more toxic long after the fire, so the air we breathe becomes more toxic,” said Athanasios Nenes, a scientist specializing in atmospheric processes.

The fire has been fueled by several prolonged heat waves, partly by record temperatures, severe drought, and strong winds. EFE


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