The summer of 1998 was for Greece a season of average forest fires. We had experienced high precipitation during Spring. The result was an increasing growth of herbs. In most regions of the country there was no rain at all between end of May and end of August. Moreover, in the middle of Summer we had three to four times scorching hot weather exceeding 38° C. So the plants were dried up. Furthermore, during the first fifteen days of August the wind was blowing extremely hard, usually between 5 to 6 Beaufort.
As a result of these weather conditions we had an increasing occurrence of wildland fires. Between 1 June and 31 August 1998 we had a total of 8748 fires which burned a total area of about 95,571 ha. The average fire size was ca. 11 ha.
From the above burned area about 78,192 ha are wildlands while the rest are agricultural and urban areas etc.
Concerning the destruction of forests and other wildlands by fire we consider the year 1998 to be an average year. We have to take into account that in a year with favourable wether conditions Greece experiences a low number of wildland fires with an average burned area of somehow more than 20,000 ha. In years with bad weather conditions the burned area is approaching 150,000 ha.
This Summer in Greece for the first time the responsibility of wildland fire fighting was with the Fire Service. During the previous years the fire fighting was duty of Forest Service. The former firefighting personnel of the Forest Service was transferred with the proper equipment to the Fire Service.
Dionyssios Vorissis Fire Captain-Forester Ministry of Public Order, Fire Service of Greece Fire Corps Headquarters, Department X Fire Fighting and Rescue Mourouzi 4 GR – 10172 Athens GREECE Fax: ++30-1-7253026 Tel: ++30-1-7290452