Wildfires continue to rip through parts of Greece

Firefighters continue to battle blazes that stretch for miles north of Athens.

A helicopter flies over a burned area during a wildfire in northern Athens, Greece [Petros Karadjias/AP Photo]

People in Greece woke up on Sunday to another hellish day in some areas as wildfires continued to tear through the country.

“We are alone. Our end is near,” Giannis Kotzias, mayor of the endangered city of Istiaia told Greek broadcaster Skai.

The harbour town is in the north of Euboea, Greece’s second-largest island, the site of some of the worst blazes this season.

Tempers are also flaring on the island, where aerial firefighting only began on Sunday.

Many complain of being left to their fate, battling blazes that stretched across multiple square kilometres and sometimes turned into walls of flame stretching up to seven kilometres (4.3 miles).

“They left us to burn,” one man told Skai, noting how the country’s firefighting plane fleet has been focusing on the area around Athens up until now.

But officials defended their actions, citing limited resources.

“We couldn’t be everywhere. You just have to imagine what would happen if the fires north of Athens had expanded to a densely settled area,” said one firefighter.

There were reports that the situation was stabilising north of Athens on Sunday, with fire crews reporting that they had been able to extinguish some smaller blazes, an official told the state broadcaster.

Crews surveying the situation in the north of Greece said they had counted about 300 houses and industrial buildings destroyed in the blazes and that it would take about 15 days to restore power to the region.

Water service has yet to be fully restored as well.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has made a point of saying multiple times in recent days that the priority is saving lives, not property or forests.

There are about four million residents of greater Athens, whereas Euboea has a population of about 220,000 and the area most endangered by flames is primarily wooded.

A man stands in the water watching wildfire approach Kochyli Beach near Limni village on Euboea, 160km (100 miles) north of Athens [Thodoris Nikolaou/AP Photo]

Smoke from Euboea’s fires has spread and was even detected in Athens.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from the island. Ferries were active again on Sunday, picking up people from the shoreline because it was no longer safe to use the roads.

Residents in other nearby villages and north of Euboea’s main harbour, Aidipsos, were urged to shut windows, doors and chimneys to prevent burning embers from entering houses.

Local officials and residents in north Euboea called in to television news programs on Saturday, appealing for more firefighters and water-dropping planes.

The situation was little better on the Peloponnese Peninsula, where a fire is burning south of the town of Megalopolis and another one on the peninsula’s western part is moving ever inland in the heavily wooded area of Arcadia, near Olympia.

Source: News Agencies

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