2018 Attica wildfires

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2018 Attica wildfires
Πυρκαγιές Αττικής 2018.png
The two main fire fronts in Attica on 23 July 2018
Location Attica
Coordinates 38°03′09″N 23°52′06″E / 38.05250°N 23.86833°E / 38.05250; 23.86833Coordinates: 38°03′09″N 23°52′06″E / 38.05250°N 23.86833°E / 38.05250; 23.86833
Statistics
Date(s) 23 July 2018 – 26 July 2018
Cause Arson or Utility pole (Under investigation)
Buildings
destroyed
more than 1,000 (destroyed or damaged)[1]
Fatalities 96[2]
Non-fatal injuries 175[3][2]
Map
Attica wildfires in Greece
Attica wildfires in Greece

A series of wildfires in Greece, during the 2018 European heat wave, began in the coastal areas of Attica in July 2018.[4] As of 14 August, 96 people were confirmed dead.[2] The fires were the second-deadliest wildfire in the 21st century, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 180.

Over 700 residents have been evacuated or rescued, mainly from the seaside village of Mati, where rescuers found 26 corpses trapped just metres away from the sea,[5] apparently hugging each other as they died.[1] Boats also recovered corpses from the water, and rescued hundreds of people from beaches and the sea. Ten people drowned when the boat rescuing them from a hotel in Mati capsized.[6]

Greece deployed its entire fleet of fire-fighting aircraft and more than 250 fire engines,[7] as well as over 600 firefighters.[8] The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras declared a state of emergency in Attica,[1] and announced a three-day period of national mourning, stating in a televised address, "The country is going through an unspeakable tragedy".[9]

After the fires, flags atop the Acropolis and the Greek parliament flew at half mast.[10] The European flags at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels also flew at half mast in honour of the victims.[11] Many countries worldwide helped or offered aid to Greece.[1] Government minister Nikos Toskas has suggested that there is evidence that arson may have been a cause of the fires in Mati.[12][13]

Fires[edit]

The image shows the fire in Kineta and its aftermath.
The fire in Kineta and its aftermath
The image shows the fire in Neos Voutzas and Mati and its aftermath.
The fire in Mati and its aftermath
Video of the wildfire

On 23 July 2018 at 13:00 Eastern European Time, a wildfire started west of Athens near Kineta. A few hours later, a second wildfire started burning at the north of Athens near Penteli.[14] Due to very strong wind gusts in the area both wildfires spread quickly which were up to 124 km/h, 77 mph, 12 Beaufort.[15] The fire in Kineta burned houses in the area, while the fire in Penteli headed east towards the beach, where it started burning parts of Neos Voutzas and Mati.

Impact[edit]

The flames were so intense that they trapped and burned people inside their houses, cars, or a few metres away from the beach. Thousands of vehicles and houses were destroyed before the fire was brought under control hours later.[16] An entire summer camp composed of 620 children was evacuated in an overnight operation.[17]

The fires were the second-deadliest wildfire to occur worldwide since 2001, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 180. In addition, the wildfires were also the sixth-deadliest to have occurred in the one-hundred years prior to the event. Only the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, the Black Dragon Fire of 1987, the Indonesian forest fires of 1997, the Cloquet Fire of 1918, and the Kursha-2 Fire of 1936 had a higher death toll.[18][19]

Casualties[edit]

As of 14 August, 96 people were confirmed dead, 46 females, 37 males, 11 children (1 infant) and 2 unidentified.[20][21][22] The youngest was 6 month and the oldest 93 years old.[20] There were 89 Greeks, 2 Polish, 1 Irish, 1 Belgian, 1 Georgian and 2 unidentified.[20][2]

At least 164 adults and 23 children were taken to hospital with injuries, including 11 adults in serious condition. It was also reported that at least twelve of the injured later died in the hospital.[2]

Cause[edit]

On 26 July 2018, the Mayor of Penteli, Dimitris Stergiou, supported that the deadly fire that hit Mati in eastern Attica began from a damaged cable at a utility pole.[23] In a press conference held on 26 July, Nikos Toskas, the Alternate Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, said that there are strong indications of arson, for the fires both in Kineta and Penteli.[24]

Reconstruction[edit]

The Mayor of Athens Giorgios Kaminis has been in constant communication with the local authorities of the municipalities affected by the wildfires. The City of Athens will commission a study to research and proposed an actionable and resilient reforestation plan, as well as collect funding through the Athens Partnership for those impacted.[25]

During reconstruction and rescue around the wildfires Greek citizens, businesses and organizations banded together to aid one another. Businesses handed out free food and water to victims and first responders, organizations such as the Hellenic Center for Disease Prevention and Control launched donation drives, and citizens have opened their homes for those impacted, both independently and through Airbnb.[26]

International assistance[edit]

Greece appealed for help from other countries to help tackle the fires and deal with the emergency situation by submitting a request through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism for international assistance with air and land assets.[27] European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management arrived in Athens on July 24 to coordinate the EU assistance being provided to Greece through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism, helped mobilize planes, vehicles, medical personnel and firefighters from the EU countries. The EU’s Copernicus satellite system has also been activated to provide the authorities with highly specialized maps.[28] The Greek minister Nikos Toskas said never before have there been so many offers to assist firefighting efforts, lauding the solidarity other countries have shown.[29]

The following countries responded:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e "Φωτιά στο Μάτι: Στους 96 οι νεκροί - Πέθανε 68χρονος στο ΚΑΤ". protothema. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "Ενημέρωση για τις δασικές πυρκαγιές της 26/07/2018 - Δελτία Τύπου - Πυροσβεστικό Σώμα Ελλάδος". www.fireservice.gr. 
  4. ^ "Greece wildfires: 'At least 60' killed near Athens as residents and tourists forced to flee into the sea". The Telegraph. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  5. ^ "Συγκλονιστικές εικόνες από το οικόπεδο στο Μάτι, όπου βρήκαν τραγικό θάνατο 26 άνθρωποι". real.gr. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  6. ^ "Two Poles drown trying to escape fire". ekathimerini.com. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  7. ^ Goldman, Niki Kitsantonis and Russell. "In Greece, Wildfires Kill Dozens in Deadliest Blazes in Years". Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  8. ^ "Wildfires near Athens kill 50, injure more than 150". The Times of Israel. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "Greece wildfires – LIVE: Death toll rises to 60 amid huge blazes outside Athens". The Independent. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  10. ^ "Wildfires kill at least 74 in Greece's 'Pompeii'". Reuters. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018. 
  11. ^ "European Commission flags lowered to half-mast in honor of Greek wildfires victims". ekathimerini. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018. 
  12. ^ "Greek fires: Arson suspected in deadly Mati blaze". BBC. 27 July 2018. 
  13. ^ [1]
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  15. ^ "NOA wind maps 23 July 2018". 23 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  16. ^ "Black day for Attica". 23 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  17. ^ "Greece fires: 620 children EVACUATED near Athens as HUGE blaze raged across the country". 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  18. ^ Masters, Jeff. "5th Deadliest Wildfire Globally in Past 100 Years: 87 Dead from Monday's Greek Fires". Weather Underground. Retrieved 29 July 2018. 
  19. ^ "Η δεύτερη πιο φονική πυρκαγιά στον 21ο αιώνα παγκοσμίως". 25 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018. 
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  21. ^ "Φωτιά στο Μάτι: Στους 95 οι νεκροί - Πέθανε 63χρονος στο ΚΑΤ". protothema. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  22. ^ "Φωτιά στο Μάτι: Στους 96 οι νεκροί - Πέθανε 68χρονος στο ΚΑΤ". protothema. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  23. ^ "Mayor of Penteli: The fire begun from a power cable". 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018. 
  24. ^ "Φωτιά: Live Τόσκας: Έχουμε σοβαρές ενδείξεις για εγκληματικές ενέργειες που αφορούν εμπρησμό". 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018. 
  25. ^ "Support reconstruction efforts after Attica wildfires". ATHENS PARTNERSHIP. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  26. ^ "Solidarity Reigns Among Greeks After Tragic Fires in Attica - The Pappas Post". The Pappas Post. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  27. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "Greece seeks help from European allies to tackle raging fires". U.S. Retrieved 2018-07-25. 
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  30. ^ "Wildfires, Albanian Government Offers EUR 100.000 to Greece". Albanian Daily News. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
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