In 2015, I wrote about the summer fires in Greece (here). Sadly, this is a recurring theme, which I could post about every year.  Forest fires can  occur everywhere when it’s dry and windy. And pine trees, which comprise most of the bits of forest around Athens, burn with more intensity than other woods because they’re resinous.

I’ve already experienced two very bad fires in previous years, when both times our garden was burnt and the house barely saved. However, this one is the worst by far. Since yesterday the situation has been catastrophic. Not only much of the remaining vegetation has been destroyed and scores of houses damaged, but, even more tragically, there have been a large number of casualties. Many people were trapped on the beaches and had to be rescued by sea. Others were trapped in their cars, some died when the taverna they were eating in burned to the ground.



Can these fires be prevented, or controlled faster? A very strong wind was blowing, spreading the flames at a terrifying rate. The usual blame game is going on, but in California and Australia, where the equipment must be superior, they seem to face the same sort of problems.

Meanwhile, superhuman efforts are being made by firefighters and volunteers on the ground, along with the heroic pilots who skim the waves to fill up their tanks and then fly through the smoke to drop the water on their chosen target.


It’s going to be a long, difficult summer.


Photos from Google

35 thoughts on “Ablaze”

  1. It’s hard to hit the like button on this one. I was just reading about this in the news this morning. It’s tragic. I hope they get the fire out soon! In California we go through every year as you said. I wish I had the answer to stop it. Lightening, dry timber, and wind are the enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have pressed like to show support. This is such a terrible situation for you all.i do pray you can get help from the rest of the world. Our prayers are with you all. Send you love and praying you stay safe.💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do feel for you, I think all Australians and Californians will have fellow feeling. One thing we do here in Australia is regular, controlled hazard-reduction burns. It does seem to help slow the spread of fires. Also, anyone who lives in an area where they are vulnerable to fire has a plan, whether they will evacuate or stay and fight the fire, everyone prepares in advance for fire season and updates their arrangements, and we have a very efficient national warning service, with sirens, TV and radio announcements and mass notifications by mobile phones and text messages. I hope the winds will die soon. Perhaps rain is too much to hope for, but we can pray…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Maybe they should implement the approach they adopt in northern Australia where they burn off in a controlled manner a segment of bush about every 5 years in the cooler months. They end up with a patch quilt type of patern. Then when a fire does start in the hotter part of the year the fire is less dangerous and can be contained more easily. This approach also helps the wildlife survive as they can move safely around the different areas when the burnung occurs. In the southern parts of Australia they dont always do this and they have tragic fires. The down side is that it can sometimes get very smoky during the burn off season. We are going through this now but the burnoffs are usualky done when the wind blows the smoke to minimise the problem, but somebody is always effected. If this happens it is best to go to the beach for the day. You will find that ill informed people will say this approach does all sorts of bad things. The reality is the Australian bush requires fires to maintain itself. The gum tree seeds need the fire to open them up. Fires have been a part of Australias enviornment since the start of time. The current humans have tried to supress them which results in a build up of fuel and it all then lets go in a blaze of hell. Sort of like emotions….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In our case, though, Hilary, it’s not bush but pine trees, amongst which houses are sprinkled, often built illegally. There’s no way you can burn anything safely. What they could do, and don’t, is oblige people to clear all the dry grasses around their houses. Otherwise, when the wind blows so strongly, everything ignited in an instant. Hope the family is well, I’ve been planning to write for a while. Xxx


  5. I have been following these on the news too, and wondering how you were. I am glad you are safe, but it is a horrible thing to live through. To know that people went to the beach for refuge, to find out that it wasn’t a safe place at all.
    Victoria and California are the most fire prone areas of the world ~ but it looks like Greece might be joining us. ☹️ Your resinous pine trees would make it so difficult, just like the oils in our eucalypts. I wonder too whether your austerity measures are playing a part too ~ fewer fire fighters, older equipment, less infrastructure to help people set up fire management systems etc.
    My thoughts are with you, and your beautiful country. 💜


  6. I’ve just been talking about it by text with my ex in Crete. Horrific. I see in the news that the government has asked for help. We’re getting them here (definitely austerity partly to blame for the hold a fire takes because of cuts to firefighters). The problem on the Isle of Wight where I’m now living is people being incredibly stupid. The other day, a holidaying couple through a disposable barbecue off the cliff. Beggars belief. Good luck and keep safe.


  7. Tragic indeed, Marina. The devastation and sad loss of life was well covered on the BBC News here, as well as the economic implications for an area so dependent on tourism for its economy. But they also said that arson was suspected. If so, I hope they manage to find who did this, before they cause more deaths or damage,
    Best wishes, Pete.


  8. I heard about the devastating fires in Greece, especially the awful situation at the beach. So tragic.
    I live in California. We had terrible fires last summer/autumn. My sister-in-law was evacuated three times. The parents of my daughter-in-law live in Northern California, only a few houses from the fire that destroyed an entire neighborhood and killed people. The area is not a sensitive one you would suspect to be fire prone, but wind blew embers from a fire nearby, and the blaze erupted. There is only so much preparation people can make. Yes, we have incredibly well trained fire fighters in the US, especially in our western states that get so many fires. But even they cannot always put out the fires immediately nor keep them out. Really hoping the fire season in Greece gets tamped down, and I hope you stay safe. Sorry about your garden.

    Of course, the much bigger problem is climate change, causing the huge shift in environment trauma.


  9. Dear Marina, I am so glad that you are safe. We have seen terrible pictures and heard heart-breaking stories on the TV and radio here. I was thinking about you and hoping that you were OK.


  10. I couldn’t help but think of you when I heard about these fires. I’m glad you’re okay for the moment, but it must be heartbreaking to witness the devastation. Stay safe, my friend.


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