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Society

Taking the Toll of Greece’s Wildfires: 300 Homes Up in Flames

ATHENS – With wildfires still blazing in some places around Greece, authorities have begun counting up the damage and costs and said at least 1,300 homes were damaged – 300 totally destroyed.

Some 84,500 hectares (208,804 acres) were also totally burned, reported Kathimerini, a huge swatch of destruction that reached from the second-biggest island in the country, Evia, to the far reaches of the Peloponnese.

At one point there were some 586 fires going on, stretching the resources of the fire brigade and leading to help brought in from 22 countries, but as destructive as it was, the fires burned less than half the acreage of some 3,000 fires in 2007 that killed 67 people. 

The government promised relief funding would be coming beginning Aug. 18 for those who lost homes and businesses even as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government would look into lapses in responses as firefighters dealt with simultaneous blazes across the country.

Fires were still raging on Aug. 12 in Arcadia in the Peloponnese where the Mayor of the village of Gortynia, Efstathios Koulis, told Kathimerini it was being brought under control with water drops from aircraft.

“This is a large area and the firefighting forces are facing fronts with long distances between them,” he said.

The fire brigade said that the forces to fight the forest fires of Ancient Olympia in Ilia and Gortynia included more than 570 firefighters with 30 groups of residents and volunteers on the ground, 181 vehicles, and firefighting missions from France and Germany.

On Evia, the fight continued against fires in the northern coastal zone from Agia Anna to Agriovotano, with more than 800 firefighters involved, the fire department said at the scene.

There was also fear that the devastated forests and hills would be the cause of some flooding at later times.

“In the event of floods Istiaia and the coastal plain will be endangered… infrastructure projects must be undertaken immediately in the burned area,” said Ioannis Skiaditis, a resident of the village of Avgaria, told the paper.

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