The Largest Forest Fire in Europe in a Century Rages in Greece
The wildfire in Greece is the largest forest fire ever recorded in the EU, The Guardian reports. The European Union has mobilised almost half of its firefighting air force to extinguish it, a European Commission spokesman said.
Eleven planes and a helicopter from the EU fleet have been deployed to help extinguish the fire north of the city of Alexandroupolis, along with 407 firefighters. France, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and the Czech Republic have sent firefighters and equipment, including planes and helicopters, to help Greece fight the fire, the EU said. According to the EU Civil Protection Service, the fire has covered more than 310 square miles (810 square kilometres), an area larger than the size of New York City.
The Greek Fire Service said the fire was "out of control" in the Dadia National Park in the northeast of the region, an important reserve for birds of prey.
The forest plays an important economic role in supporting logging, beekeeping and tourism in Evros, one of the poorest regions of the country. According to Kostas Dunakis, who heads the local livestock association, at least 4,000 sheep and goats have been killed in the fire in Alexandroupoli alone, and warehouses with animal feed have been destroyed.
Since the fire started on 19 August, 20 people have died, 18 of them migrants whose bodies were found in the region, which is often used as a point of entry from neighbouring Turkey.
After Greek government officials said the fire started in 15 different locations, forming a huge front, the Greek Supreme Court prosecutor ordered an investigation into the cause of the blaze and whether organised arson groups were operating in the region.
Across Greece's border in Turkey, authorities temporarily closed a key shipping route through the Dardanelles Strait, which connects the Aegean and Black Seas, to allow helicopters and planes to take water to extinguish the fires.
As a reminder, a record heat wave was recorded in Europe this year.
Also, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, the world's oceans have set another temperature record.
Scientists are alarmed by the recorded values and warn that if global warming does not slow down and the temperature continues to rise, we will face an environmental catastrophe.