Greece: Forest fires – Emergency Action Plan (EPoA), DREF Operation MDRGR004 – Greece

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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Several forest fires have broken out in the last two weeks in several regions of Greece, including in the region of Epirus (town of Preveza), in the region of Crete (mainly Rethymno), in the North of the Aegean Sea ( Samos) in the Ionian islands of Corfu and Kefalonia, as well as more recently in the region of Central Greece (Evia) and the region of Attica (the northern suburbs of Athens and the wider Athens metropolitan area – Penteli Mountain, Gerakas, Anthousa, Pallini including Laurium, and in Western Attika, Megara/Alepochori). Eastern Macedonia and the Thrace region, around Evros (Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Forest Park) and Komotini, but also the Peloponnese region (towns of Patras and Pyrgos) and Lesvos (Vatera and Vrisa) have also been affected. Although some of these fires have been contained, the risk of resumption remains high due to high winds in many areas this week, according to firefighters. Given the scale and intensity of the wildfires this season and the increased need for National Society interventions in several locations, the CHR has requested the support of the IFRC to maintain and expand its current response activities. , but also be better prepared for the month of August, which is normally the peak. forest fire season in Greece.

This year confirms the general trend of increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires and heat waves in the country, aggravated by the effects of climate change. This comes after a very destructive previous year in 2021, where Greece experienced multiple wildfires in conjunction with a historic heatwave for the country (highest temperatures reaching 47.1C).

According to the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), 2022 is set to break new records, as the European Forest Information System (EFFIS) recorded a 750% increase in fires in the first 3 months alone compared to the period from 2008 to 2021. Although the causes of the fires mentioned above are currently under investigation, forest fires by the authorities, they are usually caused by a combination of different factors. Nevertheless, forest fires are often triggered by human activities, accidental or not, which are exacerbated by climatic conditions (perfect storm of high heat, dry weather, strong wind, which are mapped daily by the ANO as illustrated on the map below). Experts largely agree that these climatic conditions are occurring more often due to the growing impact of climate change.

Below are more details of the affected locations currently battling wildfires in Greece and areas where HRC has responded:

Crete – Rethymno

A forest fire broke out on Friday July 15 in a semi-mountainous area of ​​the municipality of Agios Vasilios, between the villages of Orne and Krya Vrysi, in Rethymnon, Crete. Six villages were evacuated as a precaution because the flames approached within 80 meters of their perimeter. Strong winds were pushing the flames across farmland towards the central road leading from Rethymno to Agia Galini. southern part of the municipality of Agios Vassilios.

The fire fronts were active for 3 days and were largely contained on July 18

Peloponnese – City of Patras

A large fire broke out in Kallithea, Achaia, near the city of Patras at noon on July 16 in a forest area. Firefighting forces (ground and air crews) operate in the expanded area. 118 firefighters were operating, with 35 vehicles, while four firefighting planes and six helicopters, one of which took over aerial coordination, continuously dumped water from the air. The fire was brought under control in 3 days.

Attica – City of Lavrio

The fire broke out shortly after 11:00 a.m. in Lavrio on July 16 and more specifically in the Neraki region. 21 firefighters with seven vehicles were working at the scene. The same information specifies that a site of informal migrants located near the site of the fire, has been evacuated. The children at the site were immediately taken by firefighters to a safe location while the adults also left. In addition, the Greek arms industry was evacuated as a precaution, because the fire that broke out in Lavrio presented a danger.

Another fire front developed in the area of ​​Markati in Keratea, a town attached to the municipality of Lavrio. Residents of Markati, Synterina and Agios Konstantinos neighborhoods have been officially asked to evacuate. They haven’t gone home yet.

Attica – North of Athens

A wildfire fueled by strong winds raged in the mountainous Penteli region near Athens on July 19, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of at least four areas and a hospital.

Heavy clouds of smoke billowed into the sky above Mount Penteli where the fire broke out about 27 km (16 miles) north of central Athens. About 420 firefighters assisted by 85 machines were trying to tame the blaze, which was burning on several fronts at the end of the afternoon. More than 24 helicopters and planes dumped water on the flames but had to halt operations at night for safety reasons. The authorities ordered the evacuation of the neighborhoods of Drafi, Anthousa, Dioni and Dasamari. Residents of nearby areas have been told to prepare for an evacuation. A hospital and the National Observatory in Athens were evacuated as a precaution. Traffic was halted on the roads leading to Penteli and police were helping residents out of the burnt areas.

Fires also broke out in the suburbs of Gerakas, Anthousa, Pallini and Dioni, as well as on either side of Marathonas Avenue. Scattered flames were all around the perimeter. According to government records, damage has been caused in the area, both in terms of environmental and community context.

Evros – Eastern Macedonia and Thrace

On July 21, a forest fire broke out in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park in Evros. The burned area exceeded 1700 hectares.

Lesbos

On Saturday July 23, a fire broke out in Vatera and Vrisa, Lesbos, causing the evacuation of hundreds of tourists and residents from the village beach. The local branch of the Hellenic Red Cross in Lesvos was involved in the response. Alongside them, about 50 firefighters with nine firefighting planes are working to put out the fire with volunteers and military personnel.

Firefighting efforts continue as the fire has not yet been declared under control.

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