Time.news – The pine forest continues to burn in the Geraneia mountains, a vast protected area 90 kilometers west of Athens where vast fires broke out on Wednesday evening. Over 270 firefighters are engaged in fighting the flames, with the support of the army and 16 aircraft. However, the fire has already destroyed 55 square kilometers of pine forest and agricultural land, Euthymios Lekkas, professor of environmental disaster management at the University of Athens, told the Greek media.
“It is an ecological catastrophe of immense scaleto which it will require work to avoid landslides and tremendous floods in the fall, “Lekkas told the Ert television channel.
There is no news of injuries but a dozen villages have been evacuated and many homes have been destroyed or damaged.
The damage to agriculture will only be quantified once the flames have been extinguished, which have already devoured 54% of the dense pine forest, part of Natura 2000, the network of protected areas of the European Union.
According to the Greek civil protection, the flames originated near the village of Schinos, due to someone who was burning brush in an olive grove.
The first big fire of the season “is one of the biggest in the last 20 or 30 years”, explained to the broadcaster Ant1 Stefanos Kolokouris, head of the fire brigade. Kolokouris explained that the good weather conditions, with temperatures not yet torrid, allowed the firefighters to control the main front of the flames on Friday evening but that “several scattered fires are still active”.
Associations of volunteers are helping burned or dehydrated animals, providing them with food, water and dressings. Dozens of birds, turtles, hedgehogs, wild boars, dogs, cats were found dead, burned alive or suffocated by smoke. The NGO Anima explained that the situation is particularly worrying as the fire coincides with “spring, when the animals give birth to their puppies”. “It is difficult for newborn animals to run or fly with their own wings like adults,” the association explains on social media.
The WWF has asked the Athens government, some representatives of which are traveling to the area, to take “serious forest fire prevention measures”, a constant summer emergency in Greece, which contributes to drought, strong winds and temperatures that often exceed 30 degrees. The most serious incident occurred in 2018, when 102 people died in a fire in the coastal town of Mati, near Athens.