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Society

Greece’s Fire Strategy: Putting Them Out, Not Prevention, Draws Fire

November 19, 2021

ATHENS – The environmental organization WWF Hellas said Greek governments have concentrated too much on trying to battle repeated wildfires instead of trying to stop them.

There were hundreds of wildfires this summer, including a number which almost overwhelmed Greece’s second-largest island Evia and destroyed a number of important businesses such as honey producers.

The group said that 84 percent of the resources for foreign management over the last five years, which includes the July 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 102 people and for which the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA was blamed for a shambolic response, are for putting out fires, only 16 percent for prevention.

That set aside 771,213,375 euros ($871,492,059) for suppression compared to just 149,343,062 euros ($168,740,217) for prevention, WWF also saying that the fire service had seen staff cuts of 53 percent and resource cus of almost 80 percent over the last 20 years.

Around 150,000 hectares (370,658) of forest was burned this year, the second worst tally in 20 years after successive governments had promised to do something about dealing with the fires, many of which were reportedly set to allow for development, now disallowed on burned land.

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