Evacuated Greek locals watch in horror as wildfires tear through their paradise island home of Evia

Pillars of billowing smoke and ash turned the sky orange on Greece‘s second-largest island as wildfires continued to rip through forests. 

More evacuation alerts were triggered this morning on Evia while residents appealed for additional firefighting help.

Footage shows the blaze raging on as evacuated locals watch in horror from inside a ship on Lake Evia. 

Hordes of residents are seen standing inside the ferry as flames rage on from all sides.  

The fire on Evia, an island of forested mountains and canyons laced with small coves of crystalline water, began August 3 and cut across the popular summer destination from coast to coast while burning out of control for five days. 

Scores of homes and businesses have been destroyed, and thousands of residents and vacationers were evacuated.     

Footage shows the blaze raging on as evacuated locals watch in horror from inside a ship on Lake Evia

Footage shows the blaze raging on as evacuated locals watch in horror from inside a ship on Lake Evia

Residents watch on as the fire blazes on

Residents watch on as the fire blazes on

Footage shows the blaze raging on as evacuated locals watch in horror from inside a ship on Lake Evia

Flames rage on near the village of Gouves on Evia island earlier today

Flames rage on near the village of Gouves on Evia island earlier today

Flames rage on near the village of Gouves on Evia island earlier today  








A ferry arrives with evacuees from the burning Evia island at Arkitsa port in mainland Greece

A ferry arrives with evacuees from the burning Evia island at Arkitsa port in mainland Greece

A ferry arrives with evacuees from the burning Evia island at Arkitsa port in mainland Greece

Evacuees are seen disembarking from a ferry which rescued them from Evia island as fires tear through it

Evacuees are seen disembarking from a ferry which rescued them from Evia island as fires tear through it

Evacuees are seen disembarking from a ferry which rescued them from Evia island as fires tear through it 

There were dramatic scenes as ferries evacuated 1,153 people from a seaside village and beaches on Evia after flames from a massive wildfire burning for days cut off all other means of escape.

A fire threatening Athens’ most important national park killed one volunteer firefighter, while at least 20 people have been injured in blazes during the country’s worst heat wave in 30 years. 

The blaze currently is the most severe of dozens that broke out in Greece in the wake of the country’s most protracted and intense heat wave in three decades, which sent temperatures soaring to 11F (45C) and created bone-dry conditions.

The Greek coast guard said three patrol boats, four navy vessels, one ferry, two tourist boats and numerous fishing and private boats were on standby to carry out potential evacuations from the seaside village of Pefki, on Evia’s northern tip. 

Hundreds of Greek firefighters fought desperately Sunday to control wildfires on the island of Evia that have charred vast areas of pine forest, destroyed homes and forced tourists and locals to flee.

‘We have ahead of us another difficult evening, another difficult night,’ Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias said Sunday.

‘On Evia we have two major fire fronts, one in the north and one in the south. The one in the north is driven by blasts of wind to the beach settlements’, he added. 

A local resident stands on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

A local resident stands on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

A local resident stands on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

Local residents look at the wildfire approaching the village of Gouves earlier today

Local residents look at the wildfire approaching the village of Gouves earlier today

Local residents look at the wildfire approaching the village of Gouves earlier today 

Raging fires tear through wildlife near Gouves village on the island of Evia today

Raging fires tear through wildlife near Gouves village on the island of Evia today

Raging fires tear through wildlife near Gouves village on the island of Evia today 

Large swathes of wildlife are completely submerged by flames in the village of Gouves on Evia

Large swathes of wildlife are completely submerged by flames in the village of Gouves on Evia

Large swathes of wildlife are completely submerged by flames in the village of Gouves on Evia 

Smoke spreads over the sea as local residents and tourists use a ferry to evacuate Pefki village on Evia island

Smoke spreads over the sea as local residents and tourists use a ferry to evacuate Pefki village on Evia island

Smoke spreads over the sea as local residents and tourists use a ferry to evacuate Pefki village on Evia island

Local residents stand on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

Local residents stand on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

Local residents stand on a hill as flames approaching at Gouves village on the island of Evia

In all, 17 firefighting aircraft – planes and helicopters – were fighting the fires on Evia, he added.

Evia lies just northeast of the capital Athens. To the southwest is the Peloponnese region where Hardalias said the situation was stable. Fires in a northern suburb of Athens have subsided, he added.

‘The situation in Attica (which encompasses Athens) is better but we are afraid of the danger of flare-ups’, said Hardalias.

Rescuers on Sunday dispatched a helicopter to airlift an injured firefighter from the densely forested Mount Parnitha just north of Athens where he was fighting a flare-up. 

Greece and Turkey have been battling devastating fires for nearly two weeks as the region suffered its worst heatwave in decades, which experts have linked to climate change.

So far, the fires have killed two people in Greece and eight in neighbouring Turkey, with dozens more hospitalised.

While rain brought some respite from the blazes in Turkey over the weekend, Greece continues to endure soaring temperatures. 

The heat from the fires on Evia and elsewhere was so intense that ‘the water from the hoses and the water-dropping aircraft was evaporating’ before reaching the blazes, one fire service official told the Eleftheros Typos newspaper. 

Local officials were critical of the efforts to control the fires, which erupted on the island on August 3.

‘I have no more voice left to ask for more aircraft. I can’t stand this situation’, Giorgos Tsapourniotis, mayor of Mantoudi in Evia told Skai TV on Saturday.

Many villages had only been saved because young people had ignored evacuation orders and stayed on to keep the fires away from their homes, he added.

‘We are in the hands of God,’ 26-year-old villager Yannis Selimis from Gouves on the north of the island.

‘The State is absent. If people leave, the villages will burn for sure,’ he told AFP.

‘For the next 40 years we will have no job and in the winter we are going to drown from the floods without the forests that were protecting us,’ he added. 

In the previous 10 days alone, 140,000 acres have been burnt in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. The average number of hectares burnt over the same period between 2008 and 2020 was 1,700 hectares.

Britain, France, Spain and other countries have answered Greece’s appeal for help, and on Sunday, Serbia announced it was sending 13 vehicles with 37 firefighters and three firefighting helicopters.

The Greek authorities meanwhile are on high alert to prevent more arsons.

Firefighters arrested three young men, aged between 16 and 21, Sunday morning at port city of Piraeus, near Athens, for attempted arson in nearby Perama.

In the Peloponnese, a 71-year-old man was arrested Sunday in Pylos.

And Athens police said Sunday they had arrested a foreigner at a park in Athens trying to light napkins at the root of a tree. 

Hordes of residents are seen standing inside the ferry as flames rage on from all sides

Hordes of residents are seen standing inside the ferry as flames rage on from all sides

Hordes of residents are seen standing inside the ferry as flames rage on from all sides

The fire on Evia, an island of forested mountains and canyons laced with small coves of crystalline water, began August 3 and cut across the popular summer destination from coast to coast while burning out of control for five days

The fire on Evia, an island of forested mountains and canyons laced with small coves of crystalline water, began August 3 and cut across the popular summer destination from coast to coast while burning out of control for five days

The fire on Evia, an island of forested mountains and canyons laced with small coves of crystalline water, began August 3 and cut across the popular summer destination from coast to coast while burning out of control for five days

A local resident walks as a wildfire rages near the village of Gouves, on Euboea island

A local resident walks as a wildfire rages near the village of Gouves, on Euboea island

A local resident walks as a wildfire rages near the village of Gouves, on Euboea island

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire near Gouves village on the island of Evia, about 115 miles north of Athens

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire near Gouves village on the island of Evia, about 115 miles north of Athens

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire near Gouves village on the island of Evia, about 115 miles north of Athens

A burned car in Kryoneri, in northern Athens, Greece, this morning

A burned car in Kryoneri, in northern Athens, Greece, this morning

A burned car in Kryoneri, in northern Athens, Greece, this morning 

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire in Gouves village on the island of Evia

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire in Gouves village on the island of Evia

Flames burn a forest during a wildfire in Gouves village on the island of Evia

Around 350 people already boarded the ferry, the coast guard said, while towering flames cut off possible escape routes on roads. 

British experts will be sent to Athens to help  

British experts are being sent to Greece to help tackle the wildfires ravaging parts of the country.

Teams from Merseyside, Lancashire, South Wales, London and West Midlands fire services will fly to Athens this weekend.

The deployment follows a request from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who visited Greece this week.

The teams sent by the National Fire Chiefs Council( NFCC) will be deployed alongside their Greek counterparts.

Ms Patel said: ‘I’ve seen first-hand this week the devastating wildfires ripping through Greece and the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with our Greek friends at this difficult time.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Nick Searle

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Nick Searle

It comes as it was revealed that British experts will be sent to Athens in Greece to help tackle the blaze. Pictured: Left, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan. Right, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Nick Searle

‘I’ve asked the National Fire Chiefs Council to send out a specialist team to provide support in responding to this emergency. I am immensely grateful to the brave firefighters for stepping forward and volunteering to help and their expertise will be invaluable in supporting the Greek emergency services.’

NFCC chairman Mark Hardingham said: ‘The UK Fire and Rescue Service will be offering support to our colleagues in Greece, along with their communities who need assistance during these devastating wildfires.

‘NFCC’s national resilience function is in place to deploy both in the UK and overseas – and the team is highly skilled at responding to extreme events such as these.

‘We can offer professional and technical skills to our fire family in Greece at a time when help is needed; it is ingrained in the professional nature of FRS staff to assist.’

There were dramatic scenes as ferries evacuated 1,153 people from a seaside village and beaches on Evia after flames from a massive wildfire burning for days cut off all other means of escape. 

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Evacuation orders were issued for four villages, including Pefki, but some residents refused to leave, hoping to save their properties.

Residents in other nearby villages and north Evia’s main harbor, Aidipsos, were urged to shut windows, doors and chimneys to prevent burning embers from entering houses.

Overnight, the coast guard and ferries evacuated 83 people from beaches in northern Evia.  

On Friday night, ferries evacuated more than 1,000 people from beaches and a seaside village in apocalyptic scenes as flames raged on the hillsides behind them.

Local officials and residents in north Evia called in to television news programs on Saturday, appealing for more firefighters and water-dropping planes.

The fire department said 575 firefighters with 35 ground teams and 89 vehicles were battling the Evia wildfire, including 112 Romanian and 100 Ukrainian firefighters sent to Greece as reinforcements.  

Four helicopters and three planes, including a massive Beriev-200 plane leased from Russia, provided air support.

Three more major fires were also burning Sunday in Greece’s southern Peloponnese region, while a massive fire that ravaged forests, homes and businesses on the northern fringes of the Greek capital appeared to be on the wane. 

That fire burnt through large tracts of a national park on Mount Parnitha, the largest forested area remaining near Athens that still bore deep scars from a fire in 2007.

One volunteer firefighter died Friday north of Athens after suffering head injuries from a falling electricity pole, while at least 20 people have been treated for fire-related injuries, including two firefighters who were hospitalized in intensive care.

The causes of the fires are under investigation. Three people were arrested Friday – in the greater Athens area, central and southern Greece – on suspicion of starting blazes, in two cases intentionally.

Another person, a 47-year-old Greek, was arrested Saturday afternoon in the Athens suburb of Petroupoli for lighting two fires in a grove and setting four dumpsters on fire, police said.

Ten countries have already sent personnel and firefighters equipment such as aircraft to Greece, while another eight are sending further reinforcements.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the fire department’s headquarters in Athens Saturday and expressed his ‘deep sadness’ for the volunteer firefighter’s death. 

He later visited the airport from which firefighting planes take off and thanked the pilots, both Greek and French.

Securing aid for everyone affected by the wildfires will be ‘my first political priority,’ the prime minister said, promising that all burnt areas would be reforested.

‘When this nightmarish summer has passed, we will turn all our attention to repairing the damage as fast as possible, and in restoring our natural environment again,’ Mitsotakis said.

Greek and European officials have blamed climate change for the large number of fires that burned through southern Europe in recent days, from Italy to the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.  

A man passes in front of a burned van, in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

A man passes in front of a burned van, in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

A man passes in front of a burned van, in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

A helicopter flies above burned forest in Kryoneri this morning

A helicopter flies above burned forest in Kryoneri this morning

A helicopter flies above burned forest in Kryoneri this morning 

The remains of a burned house are seen in Kryoneri in Athens this morning

The remains of a burned house are seen in Kryoneri in Athens this morning

The remains of a burned house are seen in Kryoneri in Athens this morning 

The causes of the fires are under investigation. Three people were arrested Friday - in the greater Athens area, central and southern Greece - on suspicion of starting blazes, in two cases intentionally

The causes of the fires are under investigation. Three people were arrested Friday - in the greater Athens area, central and southern Greece - on suspicion of starting blazes, in two cases intentionally

The causes of the fires are under investigation. Three people were arrested Friday – in the greater Athens area, central and southern Greece – on suspicion of starting blazes, in two cases intentionally

A man stands between burned trees in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

A man stands between burned trees in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

A man stands between burned trees in Kryoneri, in northern Athens

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