Firefighters were due to fully control the first major fire of the year in Greece on Sunday, in the protected area of the natural habitat of Geraneia west of Athens, and the government has promised financial assistance to the victims.
No casualties were reported, but a dozen houses were damaged or destroyed, and experts say a “huge environmental disaster”.
“The fire is officially in recession. It is a matter of hours until it is completely under control,” firefighter spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told the Greek news agency ANA on Sunday morning.
More than 270 firefighters, backed by fifteen planes, continued to be deployed on Sunday, with the help of the military, to fire services that remain vigilant in the face of a possible resumption of fire in these steep mountains.
The disaster, which began off the coast of the Gulf of Corinth on Wednesday night, according to firefighters “is one of the most important fires in 20-30 years, which happened this month, so early in the season”.
The fire burned more than 55 km2 of pine forest. According to the left-wing newspaper Avghi, the dense and hitherto preserved forest burned 54%, and 6.1% of the massif belonged to Natura 2000 protected areas, which bring together natural or semi-natural areas of the European Union with exceptional flora and fauna.
The government will help those who lost their homes, livestock or agricultural land in the disaster.
“Immediate economic aid of 600 euros to victims will be distributed for basic needs, and up to 6,000 euros will be allocated for development work after the initial damage assessment,” Deputy Interior Minister Stelios Petsas announced on Sunday.
In addition, Stelios Petsas has promised major work to prevent further flooding in the area.
“This major environmental disaster will require work to avoid landslides and terrible floods in the fall,” Euthymios Lekkas, a professor of environmental disaster management at the University of Athens, explained on Saturday on the public ERT channel.
Greece faces strong forest fires every summer, triggered by drought, strong winds and temperatures often in excess of 30 degrees.
These can be fires of natural origin, of criminal origin, for the purpose of real estate speculation or due to negligence in the event of fallout, fire or branches in the fields.
According to the Kathimerini newspaper, in 2020, 179 fires were the result of negligence, and 26 intentional.