The forest fire that has ravaged the Greek region of Evros, in the northeast of the country bordering Turkey, for eleven days has devastated almost 90,000 hectares, becoming the largest active fire ever recorded in the European Union, and has unleashed an unprecedented response. precedents by Brussels in what they describe as “the largest aerial firefighting operation in the European Union to date”.
As of Monday, the fire had destroyed an area larger than New York City, as compared today by the Copernicus emergency management service, the European Union’s Earth Observation Program.
This disaster, which the European Commission has considered the “largest forest fire in the history of Europe” since this type of data began to be recorded in 2000, has so far left 20 people dead – 18 of them irregular immigrants – and has caused a devastating environmental and economic impact in the region. The fire, which broke out around the coastal city of Alexandroupoli, spread rapidly due to strong winds and extreme heat.
The Dadia National Park, of great ecological value known for its diversity of birds of prey, has suffered severe damage and authorities fear it may never return to its original state. Alexandros Dimitrakopoulos, professor at the Faculty of Forestry and Environment at the University of Thessaloniki, has warned that this unique ecosystem has suffered an irreparable blow and that “it will never be seen again as it was known”, according to the APE-MPE agency. .
In response to this emergency, the European Commission has mobilized unprecedented resources. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has deployed eleven planes, two of them from Spain, a helicopter, 62 vehicles and 407 firefighters from ten EU countries and Serbia. The situation is serious, and the authorities are trying to mitigate the damage and provide support to the affected communities. As announced on the social network X Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management. This reflects the seriousness of the situation and the willingness of Brussels to help Greece in this fight against the forest fires.
The situation is critical throughout Greece. In total, so far in 2023, some 150,000 hectares have already burned in Greece, more than 1.1% of the country’s total area, marking the second worst year in terms of burned territory since 2007.
Greek firefighters are working hard to control the wave of fires, and although many outbreaks have been extinguished in their early stages, the threat persists in various areas of the country. In fact, the same body has reported that 44 forest fires have been declared throughout the country in the last 24 hours alone, most of which were immediately extinguished in their initial phase, reports the Skai station.
The government and environmental experts attribute the devastation caused by numerous fires that Greece is suffering this summer to the climate crisis, according to the AFP agency.