Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A resident calls the fire brigade as a fire burns in the yard of a house in the northern suburbs of Athens on Aug. 3, 2021 in Athens, Greece. People were evacuated from their homes after a wildfire reached residential areas of northern Athens, as record temperatures reached at 42 degrees Celsius.

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images Europe

Wildfires north of Athens leapt back to life on Thursday as searing conditions persisted and emergency crews battled blazes across Greece for a third day running.

Red flames and sparks glowed in the night on the outskirts of the Greek capital, residents fled suburbs, asylum seekers were evacuated and authorities warned of more blazes on Friday as temperatures hovered around 40 C and gale force winds were expected.

Twelve people were taken to hospital, including two volunteer firefighters who were treated for burns in intensive care, health officials said.

Story continues below advertisement

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said emergency services faced a difficult night with westerly winds set to strengthen and he urged people to comply with evacuation orders and avoid unnecessary travel.

“We are dealing with unprecedented conditions as many days of heat wave have turned the whole country into a powder keg,” he said in a special televised address.

With swathes of neighbouring Turkey also aflame, the smoke-filled skies have added to apocalyptic images of floods and fire seen across Europe this summer.

On the island of Evia, close to Athens, church bells rang on Thursday to warn of the fires. Some 25 villages on the island have already been evacuated with the beach resort of Agia Anna threatened late on Thursday.

“The situation is out of control. The flames are more than 40 metres high,” Mayor George Tsapourniotis told Alpha television as coast guard vessels headed to the area to help with the evacuation.

Mr. Mitsotakis said defences against the reality of climate change had to be strengthened. He said there would be time for “criticism and self-criticism” of the government’s handling of the crisis but for the moment urged citizens to remain united.

Earlier, he visited an area in the western Peloponnese near the site of the ancient Olympic Games where emergency services fought all night to save one of Greece’s best known archeological sites.

Story continues below advertisement

SUBURBS EVACUATED

Firefighters, backed by waterbombing fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, had managed to control some of the blazes near Athens earlier in the day.

But the heat fanned them back into life, with flames crossing the motorway connecting Athens to northern Greece and threatening more built-up areas.

Late on Thursday afternoon, authorities ordered the evacuation of a clutch of suburbs to the north of Athens and moved a group of asylum seekers from the nearby Malakasa migrant reception centre.

Tens of dozens of wildfires have broken out across Greece since Tuesday, destroying houses, forcing the evacuation of dozens of towns and villages, and burning thousands of acres of forest land.

The Civil Protection Authority issued an “extreme fire warning” for half the country on Friday amid the heat wave.

The Finance Ministry announced emergency payments of up to 6,000 euros ($7,100) for people who had lost possessions and said more measures would follow.

Story continues below advertisement

Local utilities said there could be rolling power cuts in some parts of the Attica region around the capital because of the fire.

Access to parks and forests will be forbidden in the coming days, Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said. Additional firefighters and aircraft were expected to arrive from France, Sweden, Romania and Switzerland.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies