Devastating and persistent wildfires spread across Greece for more than one week. The scenes were horrific and this sequence of events was described as one of the worst ecological disasters which took place in Greece over the past decades.
The wildfires spread rapidly during the course of one of the worst heatwaves that the country experienced since 1987. The wildfires recorded were hundreds, seriously overwhelming firefighters leaving the country with no option but to ask for foreign assistance. Assistance came from over twenty European and Middle East countries that provided resources such as firefighters, planes, helicopters and vehicles.
The Prime Minister for Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, stated that many lives were saved however the country lost property and forests. During this strenuous period, firefighters would face an approximate hundred fires a day, with the situation improving after a few days.
Although the situation has been neutralised, the danger is far from over, considering that we are still in August and more challenges may transpire. The situation is expected to remain under constant monitoring at least until this summer season is over.
The Prime Minister for Greece had less optimistic comments referring to the fact that the world is facing a “climate crisis” and that change is a necessity. He went on to comment that he is ready to make the “bold changes” that are required and that this is a crisis which impacts the entire world.
The issue of wildfires has plagued other countries such as Italy, Turkey and Algeria, leading to several casualties. These were spearheaded by the intense heat over the past weeks. These heatwaves are being correlated with climate change with scientists expressing very little doubt about the relationship. These events which were in the past considered extreme are becoming more regular and it is believed that the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is a main driver.
The carnage included the destruction of pine forests, reducing them to wastelands. This was also accompanied by the annihilation of trees and vineyards. Several evacuation orders were issued in view that saving lives was the Greek government’s top priority. In view of the overwhelming fires, volunteer firefighters had been rallied to combat this disaster.
The evacuation orders issued by the government were criticised by many. There were those who argued that these were premature and many had ignored them to fight the flames themselves and save their homes.
When the Prime Minister was asked about the possibility that these fires were caused by arson, he confirmed that some were indeed created deliberately. Individuals were also arrested due to their suspected involvement.