About 3,000 firemen were fighting yesterday to control a dozen fires throughout Greece that have burned villages, forests and fields and killed seven people since last week. From Greece’s northern Balkan borders to the southern Peloponnese peninsula and the Ionian Sea island of Corfu, wildfires have ravaged thousands of hectares of woods and farmland. At least 10 villages have been evacuated and Greece has asked for help from abroad. Israel responded by sending two helicopters and firefighters. Villages were also evacuated on the Greek holiday island of Corfu over the weekend as fires engulfed homes and burned barns and livestock, and authorities declared a state of emergency. The unprecedented hot and windy conditions made extinguishing the fires nearly impossible, despite the thousands of firemen, volunteers and soldiers and scores of fire engines and planes sent in to fight them. Arson was suspected in a number of the fires.
Some of the fires moved south across the rugged borders with Albania and Macedonia.
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Sunday met officials from the two neighbouring states in the northern border town of Florina in an effort to coordinate the firefighting effort. Since May Greek firefighters have had to fight hundreds of forest fires that have scorched a record area of forest and farm lands and killed 12 people.
(Information Source: Story by Dina Kyriakidou, Planet Ark, 29 August 2000)