Tourists Evacuated as Deadly Wildfire Spread Across Greece

Because of the “tinderbox” conditions brought on by the current drought and dry weather, wildfires have devastated the Greek islands of Kos and Chios. 

Fires have broken out and have been fueled by the high winds; the sky is now filled with thick plumes of black smoke. Tourists have been urged to evacuate via emergency notifications sent to their phones. As firemen make their way from Athens and the neighboring island of Lesbos to battle the blazing wildfires, aircraft and helicopters are continuously pouring payloads of water from the sky.

Reports reached 38-year-old Clare Smith outside her hotel in the resort village of Kardamena that busses were en route to collect her husband and nine-year-old daughter from their Kos vacation. The cloud of smoke that she saw was like being “in the apocalypse or some sort of war film,” she said. 

Lottie Westerling and her companions were on their first-ever international trip when they were forcibly removed from their Kos hotel and are now stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean.

Early this morning, authorities in the Metohi region of western Chios ordered the evacuation of all residents, visitors, and tourists to a neighboring beach. By nightfall, the fire had necessitated 140 firefighters, eight wildfire specialty teams, seven water-dropping planes, and three helicopters.

Over the past 24 hours, 52 wildfires have broken out throughout Greece, 44 of which were put out early on. Eight separate fires were under control as of Monday night.

The fire service in the Athens area contained two huge forest fires, driven by high winds, the day before. 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expects wildfires to be more dangerous this summer. He attributed the limited damage so far to better coordination between authorities and volunteer firefighters and the use of drones in an early warning system.

Last month, winds that were both strong and dry contributed to the spread of flames in Turkey and Greece. After an unusually mild and dry winter, this summer is shaping up to be a very fire-prone one.