Greek emergency crews struggled on Friday (August 6) to stop wildfires from spreading to more towns and volunteers and residents tried to protect their homes and rescue abandoned animals, as scorching winds fuelled blazes across Greece for the fourth day.
Greece, like much of the rest of Europe, has been grappling with extreme weather this summer. A week-long heatwave – its worst in 30 years – has sparked simultaneous wildfires in many parts of the country, burning homes and killing animals as flames tear through thousands of acres of land.
At least 56 active fronts sent thousands fleeing as they burned across the country, from the Peloponnese in the west to the island of Evia.
In Athens wildfires on the foothills of Mount Parnitha burst back into life late on Thursday, and residents who had returned home were forced to leave again.
“Fire, so much fire. Everything burned, houses, factories, everything,” said Wasim Khan, an employee at a pottery workshop and store, near the suburb of Kapandriti, wetting the lawn before he, too, left.
As the fire advanced on multiple fronts, volunteers with an animal rescue organization arrived to transport abandoned animals to safely.
“We are trying to find as many as possible to rescue and save, to take them somewhere where they can be safe. There’s five horses in there, I hope we manage to get them out. The fire is getting dangerously close, do you see? The fire is coming. The animals are in danger. We are in danger too, but animals can’t defend themselves, we can,” said volunteer Nikos Hortatzakis.
Temperatures have been over 40 degrees Celsius (107 Fahrenheit) all week and no let up came on Friday with high winds spreading the flames further.
The Athens power grid operator announced staggered power cuts in the surrounding region to ensure there were no major outages in mainland Greece.