Photo: Marios Lolos / dpa
The large forest and bush fires in northeastern Greece spread further west on Wednesday night. As the state broadcaster ERT reported in the morning, it was now also burning in the direction of the city of Komotini.
The largest fire front continued to rage in the Dadia National Park towards the Turkish border – now for the fifth day in a row. The wind carried the smoke that had risen here across the country. In Dadia, apparently, bad scenes took place: Here, the police found 18 burned bodies in a hut on Tuesday. The dead are believed to be migrants who may have entered illegally from Turkey. The number of victims has risen to a total of 20 since Monday.
The situation in Athens also remained tense; there it burns since Tuesday west in the industrial suburb of Aspropyrgos. At night, explosions could be heard from there, factory halls were destroyed by the flames.
In addition, it continued to burn northwest of the city in the direction of the Parnitha Mountains. There, the fire brigade fought throughout the night to prevent the flames from spreading to the mountains. Parnitha is considered the green lung of Athens and is a national park area. The fire brigade was deployed with 65 fire engines, and at dawn the massive operation from the air began again with seven firefighting planes and eight helicopters.
In total, there are fires in Greece on at least 15 major or major fronts, satellite images showed. The forecast of the risk of forest fires for Wednesday was slightly better than on Tuesday, the civil defense said. Thus, the Meltemi wind, which is typical for the season, should no longer blow so stormy. However, there will still be local wind speeds of around 50 kilometers per hour, the Greek weather service said. Accordingly, the risk of forest fires remained high to very high in many parts of the country.
On Wednesday night, many thousands of citizens fought alongside the firefighters against the forest fires, volunteers as well as homeowners and villagers. With garden hoses and fire extinguishers, but also with blankets, brooms and shrubs in their hands, the inhabitants of the affected regions are trying to cope with the flames. Many people were left without electricity and water in the forest fire areas because electricity pylons burned.
"I just packed my medication and then we're off," said an elderly woman who had to flee with others from the village of Dikella, west of Alexandroupolis. The TV station Skai showed the desperate people: dozens of them were rescued on the beach by boats of the coast guard and the fire brigade and brought across the sea to safety.
A large part of the village later fell victim to the flames, as the station reported. On the mountain behind it, the wall of fire blazed up to 20 meters high.