Eleven water bombers, a dozen helicopters and more than a hundred firefighters fought Tuesday’s fierce forest fire threatening the Amfissa olive grove, one of the largest in central Greece, firefighters have told us.
The fire has already burned 300 hectares of farmland and 900 hectares of bushland, fire department spokesman Yannis Artopios told media.
The olive grove of the city of Amfissa, capital of Phocis (or Fokida) prefecture and located 280 km north of Athens, lies at the foot of Mount Parnassus and stretches to the Corinthian Gulf. Some of these include hundreds of thousands of olive trees, some of which are centuries-old trees.
The fire broke out Monday afternoon near the village of Sernikaki, 15 km from the ancient archaeological site of Delphi (4th century BC), but without threatening it, authorities said.
Fanned by strong winds of up to 70 km/h, the fire quickly spread to the Amfissa olive grove and a large fire brigade was immediately dispatched to fight the blaze and an investigation launched to determine the cause of the fire.
In the last few days, dozens of small and medium-sized forest fires have broken out in Greece, mostly burning bushes and forest.
The civil defense warned last weekend that due to strong winds and temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius this week in certain regions “the risk of fire is very high”.
In the western Peloponnese, a fire that broke out on Sunday in the Ilia prefecture “is not yet contained,” an official from the fire department’s press office told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.
A forest fire also broke out on Monday near the village of Kranidi in the eastern Peloponnese, and a hotel had to be evacuated as a precaution.
“In the last 24 hours, 52 forest fires have broken out across the country,” said Yannis Artopios on Monday evening, emphasizing that the fire brigade is on a war base.
Last summer Greece, and specifically the island of Euboea near Athens, was hit by searing temperatures and fierce forest fires that devastated 103,000 hectares and killed three people. Authorities had blamed the disaster on climate change, but environmental NGOs had identified flaws in the prevention system.