Wildfires Continue to Rage Across Greece, Cutting Island in Half and Forcing Thousands to Flee thumbnail

Wildfires Continue to Rage Across Greece, Cutting Island in Half and Forcing Thousands to Flee

Flames rise from a fire spreading around Kapandriti, a town on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, on August 5, 2021.

Flames rise from a fire spreading around Kapandriti, a town on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, on August 5, 2021.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki (Getty Images)

Flames tore through residential areas and threatened historic sites as wildfires burned across Greece for a fifth day on Saturday, a scene so apocalyptic that one local official described it as “a biblical catastrophe,” the Associated Press reports.

More than 100 wildfires have been reported across Greece this week as record-breaking temperatures scorch the nation. Greece had its most intense heat wave in three decades, with temperatures in Athens reaching a high of 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). Most of the fires have been quickly stamped out, but several others burned out of control into massive infernos, forcing thousands of residents and tourists to flee.

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More Than 100 Wildfires Have Sparked Across Greece

More Than 100 Wildfires Have Sparked Across Greece

Smoke covers Athens Centre and the Acropolis as fires burn at the foot of Mount Parnitha, a national park north of Athens, Greece.

Smoke covers Athens Centre and the Acropolis as fires burn at the foot of Mount Parnitha, a national park north of Athens, Greece.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki (Getty Images)

As of Saturday, a Fire Service spokesperson told AP that containment efforts were “going well” for a major fire that swept through the forested slopes of Mount Parnitha, a national park north of Athens.

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A Fire That Exploded in Size Overnight Cut Evia Island in Half

A Fire That Exploded in Size Overnight Cut Evia Island in Half

People board a ferry prior to an evacuation as a wildfire approaches the seaside village of Limni on the island of Evia, Greece, on August 6, 2021.

People board a ferry prior to an evacuation as a wildfire approaches the seaside village of Limni on the island of Evia, Greece, on August 6, 2021.
Photo: Sotiris Dimitropoulos (Getty Images)

Ferries evacuated roughly 1,400 people from Evia, the country’s second-largest island, after a blaze flared up over Friday night and effectively cut the island in half, blocking other means of escape.

A makeshift flotilla of Coast Guard patrols, ferries, passenger ships, and fishing boats has been stationed near the island’s northern tip in case other residents and tourists need rescue, a Coast Guard spokesperson told AP. Terrifying footage of the evacuation was shared on Twitter, which you can check out below.

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Mediterranean Region Now Considered a ‘Wildfire Hotspot’

Mediterranean Region Now Considered a ‘Wildfire Hotspot’

A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy in western Greece on August 4, 2021.

A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy in western Greece on August 4, 2021.
Photo: Eurokinissi/AFP (Getty Images)

Wildfires have sparked in other nations across the region as well, including in Italy, Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, which is managed by the European Union, recently labeled the Mediterranean region a “wildfire hotspot” due to its unprecedented levels of activity this summer, which Greek and European officials are blaming on the effects of climate change. Indeed, the climate crisis has dried out large parts of the Mediterranean. A study of drought conditions from 1998 to 2012 found that it was the worst to hit the region in at least 900 years, and the climate crisis played a role in driving its intensity. The fires fit a pattern of more large, destructive wildfires, including deadly Greek blazes in 2018.

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Foreign Aid Deployed to Try to Contain the Blazes

Foreign Aid Deployed to Try to Contain the Blazes

A picture taken on August 6, 2021, shows burnt hills in Drosopigi, a village north of Athens, Greece.

A picture taken on August 6, 2021, shows burnt hills in Drosopigi, a village north of Athens, Greece.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the European Commission mobilized emergency response forces from France, Cyprus, the Netherlands, and other nations to send firefighters and aircraft to contain the blazes across the Mediterranean region.

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Massive Fires on Peloponnese Peninsula Compared to ‘Biblical Catastrophe’

Massive Fires on Peloponnese Peninsula Compared to ‘Biblical Catastrophe’

Flames rise from a forest in the village of Kyrynthos, Greece, on August 6, 2021.

Flames rise from a forest in the village of Kyrynthos, Greece, on August 6, 2021.
Photo: Sotiris Dimitropoulos (Getty Images)

Two massive fires continued to ravage the Peloponnese peninsula on Saturday, one near Ancient Olympia and one in the Mani region, according to AP. A local official in Mani estimated that around 70% of her area had been destroyed so far.

“It’s a biblical catastrophe. We’re talking about three-quarters of the municipality,” East Mani Deputy Mayor Eleni Drakoulakou told state broadcaster ERT via AP.

She and other officials and residents in southern Greece took to radio and television programs to amplify their pleas for more firefighting assistance.

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Firefighters Are Facing ‘Exceptionally Dangerous, Unprecedented Conditions’

Firefighters Are Facing ‘Exceptionally Dangerous, Unprecedented Conditions’

Firefighters try to put out a wildfire as flames spread over a highway on August 5, 2021, in northern Athens, Greece.

Firefighters try to put out a wildfire as flames spread over a highway on August 5, 2021, in northern Athens, Greece.
Photo: Milos Bicanski/Stringer (Getty Images)

Greek Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias said Friday that firefighters are facing “exceptionally dangerous, unprecedented conditions” trying to put out dozens of wildfires across the nation, AP reports.

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Greek Official Calls Rash of Wildfires a ‘Situation Without Precedent in Our Country’

Greek Official Calls Rash of Wildfires a ‘Situation Without Precedent in Our Country’

A local resident runs to fight a fire in Thrakomakedones, near Mount Parnitha, north of Athens, Greece, on August 7, 2021.

A local resident runs to fight a fire in Thrakomakedones, near Mount Parnitha, north of Athens, Greece, on August 7, 2021.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki (Getty Images)

“Over the past few days, we have been facing a situation without precedent in our country, in the intensity and wide distribution of the wildfires, and the new outbreaks all over [Greece],” said Greek Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias via AP. “I want to assure you that all forces available are taking part in the fight.”

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