Wildfire Rages Through Suburbs of Athens, Greece

Wildfire Rages Through Suburbs of Athens, Greece
Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

Wildfires have been wreaking havoc over the past few weeks, as several fires — like the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico — continue to burn. Greece is currently battling another wildfire that began on Saturday in the area surrounding Athens, and it is only one of the 61 different wildfires that were active in Greece on Saturday according to Deputy Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Evangelos Tournas, who was quoted in AP News.

The official cause of the fire has not been determined, but it has been spreading across the populated suburbs to the east and south of the Athens city centre with evacuations in those areas underway.

Thick, Black Smoke

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

Residents in the Voula suburb encountered the fire on Saturday. “The situation is dire and the wind does not help. The atmosphere is suffocating, we have difficulty breathing,” Head of the Association for the Protection and Development of Ymittos and mayor of Elliniko-Argyroupoli, Giannis Konstantatos told Athens-Macedonian News Agency. He went on to say, “Unfortunately, the fire is moving towards Panorama and now the mayor of Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni has asked for an evacuation.”

Strong Winds and Treacherous Mountains

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

The official cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but according to Konstantatos who was quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the fire began in the Ano Glyfada area, where dried branches had not been cleared. Strong winds have helped spread the fire and the mountainous terrain of the area have made it difficult to contain.

Greece’s Fire Season

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

Greece has seen some incredibly destructive fires in recent years. Reuters stated that a 2018 fire in Mati killed 102 people in a few hours, and wildfires in 2021 destroyed 300,000 acres of forest and brush across the country. Greek Reporter said that 2021 was a particularly brutal fire season for the country, which saw hundreds of fires that year.

Attempts to Contain

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

According to the Guardian, over 100 firefighters were trying to contain the blaze with the help of six aircraft and four helicopters on June 4. The Washington Post reported on June 5 that the number of firefighters was at 283, citing local media outlets. The Athens suburb of Voula was the site of some of these aerial attempts at extinguishing the flames.

Evacuations in the Suburbs

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

Residents in Voula were evacuated as the wildfire approached the suburb. Clouds of thick, black smoke from the fire rose into the atmosphere and were visible from over 20 kilometres away in the coastal city of Pireas, according to AP News. The fire has burned through homes and local businesses in Voula, which is south of the Athens city centre.

Help From Other Countries

Photo: Milos Bicanski, Getty ImagesPhoto: Milos Bicanski, Getty Images

Firefighters were spread thin as dozens of wildfires burned across Greece over the weekend, and the European Commission said last week that over 200 firefighters and more equipment from European Union countries will be sent to Greece to help control its wildfire season, according to the Washington Post.