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Greece and Spain evacuate hundreds during wildfires

July 24, 2022

Greece is battling three major wildfires and evacuating thousands amid a heat wave. Rising temperatures in Spain bring fears of more blazes throughout the country

Residents of the neighborhood of Las Llanadas, in the north of the island of Tenerife, rush to evacuate their animals due to wildfire broke out in the island of Tenerife, Spain on July 23, 2022
Authorities rushed to evacuate residents on the island of TenerifeImage: Andres Gutierrez /AA/picture alliance

Greece is fighting to extinguish three major wildfires in the country, with a fire on the Spanish island of Tenerife also still raging on Sunday.

The Tenerife fire has incinerated more than 2,150 hectares of land since it began last week. 

How are the blazes impacting Greece?

In Greece, flames blazed in the north, east and south along with the island of Lesbos.

Authorities in Greece have already started evacuating villages affected by the blazes. Around 200 people were evacuated from Vryssa village on the island of Lesbos as fires spread to coastal properties. Flames crept around some 500 meters (1,600 feet) from houses, the deputy mayor of western Lesbos told Skai radio.

"We are battling to save homes," Taxiarchis Verros, mayor of western Lesbos, told state TV ERT. 

Residents were also removed from Dadia in northeastern Greece late Saturday as thick smoke from a fire seeped into the village. Dadia lies in the region of Evros, which is located on the Greek border with Turkey.  

 "The most important thing for us is the safety of the villagers and all forces (which) will be deployed there," Evros governor Dimitris Petrovits told Athens News Agency.

Around 320 firefighters have been dispatched to counter the blazes. Nearly all available firefighting helicopters and aircraft are in use throughout Greece, according to the Civil Defense. 

Wildfires in Greece have already destroyed around 500 hectares (1,220 acres) of woodland. Last year, blazes killed at least three people and destroyed 103,000 hectares of land. 

Greece battles fierce fires – DW's Florian Schmitz reports

Rising temperatures expected in Spain, as Tenerife fires continue

Most of Spain's recent wildfires are under control except for the ongoing blazes in Tenerife.

Emergency officials in Spain have deployed around 150 teams to deal with the wildfires. Authorities also moved around 585 residents from La Guancha in Tenerife to safety along with four other communities in the north of the island.

Countering the fires was made easier by humidity and weaker winds in the country. But Spain expects a rise in temperature to up to 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) Sunday and Monday, which is a cause for concern.

"We must therefore extinguish the fire as quickly as possible," Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said on Saturday night.

Wildfires destroyed around 200,000 hectares (2,000 square kilometers) of land in Spain this year. 

Spain and Greece are dealing with a combination of rising temperatures and drought, which makes fires particularly hard to put out. 

Fires have also broken out in the Bohemian Switzerland national park in Czech Republic that lies on the border with Germany. The exact source of the fires has not yet been determined, but it is expected that human negligence may be the cause.

asw/wd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)