A Greek nature reserve on the island of Evia continued to be under threat from a major wildfire on Wednesday, August 14th, with water-dropping planes and helicopters fighting the flames after hundreds of people were evacuated from four villages and a monastery.
The aircraft have been focusing on areas where access by land is difficult due to the dense pine forests growing in the reserve, AP reported. More than 200 firefighters have been battling the wildfire, which broke out at around 3am on Tuesday morning.
The situation has been worsened by unfortunate weather conditions. Strong winds have hampered efforts to control the spread of the blaze and carried smoke from the fire as far as the Greek capital.
Fortunately, milder winds were predicted for Wednesday, which led the fire department to say the situation had much improved, even though the fire had still not been brought under control.
Vasilis Pirgos recalled his experience in Kontodespoti, one of the four villages evacuated on Tuesday. "We tried with every means we had to control the fire and for it not to enter the village and burn the houses," he said. "Thankfully we had support from the air. We had many helicopters over the village dropping water continuously and we managed to save the houses."
A state of emergency was declared Tuesday for the area affected by the fire, while Greece called on the European civil protection system for assistance. Italy and Croatia pledged four firefighting planes. Greece's Citizens' Protection Minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, said authorities had "managed to protect people's lives, for there to not be any human life lost, and to save the people's properties."