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Greece fires under control, but danger remains

July 28, 2023

The fire service in Greece has reported that the fight against deadly wildfires that have been raging for more than a week is improving. However, the alert remains high as fierce winds are predicted.

Destroyed truck carriages are seen in a factory yard as a wildfire burns at the city of Volos
Tens of thousands of residents and tourists were evacuated in the past two weeks at the height of the busy travel seasonImage: Alexandros Avramidis/REUTERS

The blazing wildfires across Greece have been brought under control, the country's Minister for Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said on Friday. 

He said three civilians were killed in the past 10 days after 667 forest and bushfires broke out nationwide.

However, the fire service warned that the fierce winds that have been forecasted could rekindle blazes.

"For now we have no spreading fires, the situation is improving, but we remain on a war footing to contain the ongoing fires," a Greek fire service spokesperson said.

Fueled by rising temperatures and strong winds, wildfires have impacted tourists and residents, especially on the Greek islands of Rhodes, Corfu, and Evia.

Mostly fires caused 'negligent behavior'

Greek Minister Kikilias said most of the fires were started by reckless behavior, without providing further details.

He said that 74 firefighters were injured. Two pilots have also died when their water-bombing plane crashed while battling a fire in Evia. 

A firefighting helicopter flies as a wildfire burns at the city of Volos
Almost 50,000 hectares of forest and vegetation have been burned, according to estimates by the Athens ObservatoryImage: Alexandros Avramidis/REUTERS

Authorities in central Greece have established an exclusion zone around a major air force base due to a wildfire that ignited powerful explosions at a nearby ammunition depot on Thursday.

Fighter jets that were stationed at the 111th Combat Wing at the base have been relocated to other facilities.

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Dendias on Friday ordered an investigation into the incident.

Citizen protection minister resigns

On Friday, the minister for citizen protection, Notis Mitarachi, resigned, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' office announced in a press release.

According to a senior official, the resignation was linked to the fact that the minister has been on vacation in recent days, while the country has been battling wildfires. 

Greece has sweltered under what some experts say is the longest heatwave recorded in July for decades.

Temperatures, which reached 45 degrees Celsius last weekend, have begun to fall.

Greece: Wildfires on Corfu put residents on high alert

ara/lo (AFP, dpa, Reuters)