ATHENS – Firefighters struggled Thursday towards robust winds and sizzling, dry situations to tame a number of wildfires ravaging Greece, together with one within the nation’s northeast that officers say is the biggest recorded within the European Union.

The wildfires have left 20 individuals useless during the last week. Eighteen of these, together with two boys aged between 10 and 15, are believed to be migrants who crossed the close by border with Turkey. Their our bodies had been discovered by firefighters close to a shack in a burnt forest space close to Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. Sixty firefighters have been injured, hearth division spokesman Ioannis Artopios stated.

The wildfire within the Alexandroupolis area, burning for a sixth day, mixed with smaller fires to create a large blaze that consumed houses and huge tracts of forest and triggered a number of evacuations of villages and of town’s hospital.

With greater than 730 sq. kilometers (282 sq. miles) burned, the Alexandroupolis blaze was the EU’s largest on file, European Commissioner for Disaster Administration Janez Lenarcic stated on X, the social media platform previously often known as Twitter.

“We must continue strengthening national & collective prevention and preparedness efforts in view of more brutal fire seasons,” he tweeted.

Elsewhere in Europe, fires in Spain’s Canary Islands, northwestern Turkey, Portugal and Italy had been being introduced beneath management, officers stated.

Firefighters in Greece had been battling dozens of different fires, together with a significant blaze on the outskirts of Athens that scorched houses and encroached on one the final inexperienced areas close to the Greek capital, the nationwide park on Mount Parnitha. One other in central Greece was burning for a fourth day.

Greece suffers harmful wildfires each summer season. The deadliest killed 104 individuals in 2018 in a seaside resort close to Athens that residents had not been warned to evacuate. Authorities have since erred on the facet of warning, issuing swift mass evacuation orders each time inhabited areas are beneath risk.

In 2007, a sequence of devastating wildfires that affected primarily the southern Peloponnese area killed greater than 70 individuals by the top of that summer season and burnt round 2,700 sq. kilometers (1,040 sq. miles).

Final month a big wildfire on the resort island of Rhodes compelled the evacuation of some 20,000 vacationers. Days later, two air pressure pilots had been killed when their water-dropping aircraft crashed whereas tackling a blaze on the island of Evia.

Greece’s Local weather Disaster and Civil Safety Minister Vassilis Kikilias stated arson was accountable for a number of the blazes close to Athens.

“Some … arsonists are setting fires, endangering forests, property and above all human lives,” Kikilias stated in a televised assertion. “What is happening is not just unacceptable but despicable and criminal.”

The minister stated 9 fires had been set within the house of 4 hours Thursday morning within the space of Avlona, within the northern foothills of Mount Parnitha.

“You are committing a crime against the country,” Kikilias stated. “We will find you. You will be held accountable to justice.”

With firefighting forces stretched to the restrict, Greece has requested different European international locations for help. Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Cyprus despatched plane, whereas dozens of Romanian, French, Czech, Bulgarian, Albanian and Slovak firefighters have been serving to on the bottom.

Artopios, the Greek hearth division spokesman, stated 260 firefighters, together with greater than a dozen from France, had been battling the Parnitha hearth supported by 10 planes and 11 helicopters. Bulgarian, Albanian, Romanian and Czech firefighters with automobiles had been serving to within the Alexandroupolis hearth.

With their sizzling, dry summers, southern European international locations are notably vulnerable to wildfires. EU officers have blamed local weather change for the growing frequency and depth of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst yr for wildfire injury on file after 2017.

In Spain’s Tenerife, a fireplace that has scorched 150 sq. kilometers (58 sq. miles) was being introduced beneath management.

Canary Island regional President Fernando Clavijo stated Thursday the blaze had “not gained a single square meter” for the first time in over a week.

He said firefighters hoped to declare the fire totally under control later Thursday, but warned that high afternoon temperatures could ignite more pockets of fire. Of the 12,000 people forced to evacuate their homes earlier in the week, only about 200 were still unable to return.

In Turkey, firefighters in the northwestern Canakkale province brought a wildfire under control Thursday, less than 48 hours after it erupted amid high temperatures and strong winds, Turkish Forestry Minister Ibrahim Yumakli said.

Yumakli said the fire, which had forced the evacuation of 11 villages, had affected 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) including 14 square kilometers (5.4 square miles) of agricultural land.

A firefighting volunteer who was injured and six other people who suffered from smoke inhalation were being kept under observation in hospitals, Yumakli said.

“We are extremely happy that there was no loss of life,” Yamukli stated. “However, we are heartbroken for other creatures of the ecosystem that were affected.”

Shipping traffic through the Dardanelles Strait, a major maritime thoroughfare linking the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara, was being partially restored to one lane only, after being completely suspended as fire-dousing aircraft use the waterway to pick up water.

Yumakli said there were no other active wildfires in the country Thursday.

Two large fires in Portugal and a smaller one in Italy were brought under control by Thursday, those countries’ authorities said, but temperatures – and the risk of new fires – remained high.


Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Raf Casert in Brussels, Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed.

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