"A forest blaze in Greece is the largest wildfire ever recorded in the EU and
the bloc is mobilising nearly half its firefighting air wing to tackle it, a
European Commission spokesperson has said.
Eleven planes and a helicopter from the EU fleet have been sent to help
extinguish the fire north of the city of Alexandroupoli, along with 407
firefighters, Balazs Ujvari said on Tuesday.
The EU’s civil protection service said the fire had burned more than 310 sq
miles (810 sq km) – an area bigger than New York City.
“This wildfire is the largest in the EU since 2000, when the European Forest
Fire Information System (Effis) began recording data,” the service said.
Greece’s fire service said the blaze was “still out of control” in the
north-east region’s Dadia national park, a vital sanctuary for birds of prey.
Since it began on 19 August, the blaze has killed 20 people, 18 of them
migrants whose bodies were found in a region that is often used as an entry
point from neighbouring Turkey.
The EU calls on a fleet of 28 aircraft – 24 water-dumping planes and four
helicopters – supplied by member countries to help battle blazes in the bloc
and in neighbouring territories.
It is working on creating a standalone, EU-funded air wing of 12 aircraft that
will be fully in place by 2030.
“We do know that fires are getting more severe,” Ujvari said. “If you look at
the figures every year in the past years, we are seeing trends which are not
necessarily favourable, and that calls for of course more capacities at the
member states’ level.”
Greece has been ravaged by numerous fires this summer, which the government and
experts attribute to the climate crisis.
Janez Lenarčič, the EU’s commissioner for crisis management, said the air
deployment underscore the bloc’s commitment to swift and effective collective
action in times of crisis."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics