Following a very difficult start, the fire season in Greece became a little more manageable. Strong “meltemi” type winds in the Aegean sea reached 7 and occasionally 8 Beaufort scale strength (roughly 55 and 68 km/hr respectively) for many days, while 7 Beaufort scale winds blew in the Ionian sea (along the west coast of Greece) more than once. However, relative humidity picked-up a little and the number of simultaneous difficult fires dropped significantly.
In the last 20 days many fires have errupted, some of them with strong potential for destruction. However, the large number of aerial means, dispatched in massive initial attack, kept most fires small. The one fire that caused most concern, was an arson fire, on August 5, on Penteli mountain near Athens. The forest there had also burned in 1995 and 1998 (each fire more than 6500 ha). This time the fire started at 02:00 under moderately difficult conditions. By early morning, when it was controlled with the help of massive aerial support, about 100 ha had burned, as well as three houses and a Forest Service station.
Yesterday, Monday, was an unexpectedly hard day. A fire on Corfu island, where fire danger for the day had be rated as very high, was brought under control after strong efforts from the air and on the ground. Unfortunately though, a PZL Dromader firefighting plane, on its last drop for the day, around 20:45, crashed on a hill. The pilot was killed.
Also, a fire that started on Monday afternoon in Aleppo Pine forest on the island of Spetses, escaped initial attack and is still in progress causing significant damage on this touristic island, without threatening buildings or people. SIgnificant forces are currently moved to the island hoping to bring the fire under control early in the morning.
A newly established Direction for arson investigation within the Fire Service, which received special training last June in a seminar offered by two instructors from the US Forest Service, has already achieved to arrest many arsonists, the latest one a serial pervert/pyromaniac arsonist on the island of Spetses.
For short-to long term fire-weather forecasts for southern Europe see the Experimental Climate Prediction Center (ECPC) web site.
Europe fire-weather forecast for tomorrow, 9 August 2000
Europe fire-weather forecast (weekly) for the time period 12-19 August 2000 (Source: ECPC)