Tenor Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos on the Fires and His Home in Rafina

A burned compound is seen next to the sea in Mati, east of Athens, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

NEW YORK – Greek tenor Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos shared his personal story about the fires that have devastated sections of Attica, Greece and his own neighborhood in Kokkino Limanaki (Rafina). The Astoria resident plans to visit Greece later this summer and told The National Herald about the damage and how his mother and friends fared. Tsinopoulos’ account follows:

My home is situated in Kokkino Limanaki (Rafina) and unfortunately most of the houses on my street were either totally destroyed or partially damaged however, both my mother as well as my home, by some miracle, were saved. For example, the house in front of me as well as the ones next to it have been burned, a couple of houses up the road burned, as well down the street totally destroyed. In the surrounding area, you can see total destruction, bedlam, friends, loved ones, have lost their homes and I’m not sure as of yet whether people that I know personally have lost their lives.

Greek tenor Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos. Photo: Demetrios Jussi Tsinopoulos

For me, there was one hour, through which I did not know if my mother was alive, which essentially is one of the worst nightmares for us expats. Luckily, I managed to reach her, and she was with a family friend, however I did not find out until 4 AM ET (11 AM the next day) whether my home was spared.

Apparently the fire broke out in three different areas and they were 15 almost ignitions. The wind speed was at an almost unprecedented nine beaufort which resulted in Mati allegedly being destroyed in less than an hour. Due to the intense wind the fire managed to even cross highways which is how it ended up in my area. The fire went as far as almost the port of Rafina.

The sentiments of most people as well as fire fighters was that it all happened so fast that it was virtually impossible to do anything about the raging fires. A friend of mine told me that her parents stepped out to see what the weather was like and felt heat coming from behind them, they turned around and noticed that somehow the fire was only 100 meters away.

This is also the reason why so many people died, and the velocity of expansion, of the fire was just unimaginable. People generally are not looking to put the blame on someone or something, especially as some more details arise, however everything does point towards arson.

For those that were lucky, as my family was, now it’s going to be a long wait to get life back in order, no electricity and not even water in some areas means that many can’t return to their homes, however reality is much worse for those who lost everything.

Most of my friends in Mati lost their homes, and whoever was there and is alive managed to barely escape that area including Kokkino Limanaki, were famous as one of the few areas in Attica that you had such a wonderful combination of Green and Blue. Now the Green has been replaced by charcoal.

The government seems to be doing everything possible, especially if you take into account that Greece is a country just recovering from economic collapse. As a retired firefighter said, “even 100 aircraft wouldn’t be able to stop 6-7-8 beaufort. Has everyone forgotten what happens in the USA during wildfires? Are they not equipped properly?”