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August 24, 2009
Critics say Greece didn’t learn its lesson from past fires

Fires in Athens.

Massive fires near Athens have forced thousands of Greeks to flee their homes, destroying roughly 37,000 acres of forest. Firefighters have been battling to contain the blaze for days.

Two years ago, Greece faced its most deadly fire in recent memory, which killed 65 people. In the aftermath, the government was criticized for its lack of coordination and preparation.

Blogger “Zeta Zizou” mourns the Pendeli mountain, a casualty of numerous fires:

Today the skies are not orange or grey. They are dark, but you can see the blue
The fires have eaten all the mountain of Penteli, everything that I hold dear as it is part of the place I grew up.

Pendeli has been burnt down many times. Various locations. In 1998 I remember I was one of the volunteers trying to save what I could only to run with new fire fronts exploding behind me with flames reaching more than 40m. I was trying to free the anmals from the abandoned houses. I was trying to water the roofs. Some was saved

Well, not any more. The entire mountain of Pendeli is now gone. From Marathon to Palea Pendeli. Well, the rocks are still there, they will be there till the end of time. Everything else is gone. Everything that has anything to do with life.

Of course I can not say that I did not expect that. But not this biblical catastrophy. Pendeli should not have been inhabited. Some very old neighborhoods, especially the hospitals and the monasteries have good reason to be there. But all these areas should not exist. Pendeli ought to belong to its forrest, to its rabbits, wolves, foxes, eagles, ducks, wildboar etc. None of that exist now as Man has burned it down so many times.

View an interactive map of the current fires.

In this amateur video from YouTube user mourmouranews, watch firemen attempt to battle the flames:

Blogger “John Psaropoulos” observes efforts to fight the fires:

I saw the ease with which wood re-inflames itself off Pendeli Square, in the eastern suburbs. Fire reached the front yards of houses off the square in the middle of the day. It nestled in some piles of dead wood in an untended plot and jumped from there to the branches of a large Aleppo pine.

A fire truck put it out once, followed by a municipal water tanker a second time. It reignited yet a third. It was left to a few young men and women with buckets of water and branches to carry on the fight.

One of them climbed a ladder and took a saw to a flaming branch. It was too thick to cut. Another climbed up with a bucket of water and doused the limb. But it was a small victory in a small yard. Around the volunteers smoke filled the air and helitankers circled overhead like angry wasps in an orange sky, a reminder that the size of this task requires superhuman machinery.

[…] Inevitably after these fires people argue about how they started and whether the fire service strategised its response well. But the key question is what is being done to prevent them. Why forest floors are not cleared, dead wood cut away from trees and networks of early warning heat sensors installed in the forest are the questions the government has to answer.

In another video from YouTube user oposoum, residents are seen trying to quench the fire with buckets and spades:

A blogger at “Devious Diva” blames the government for not making changes in the aftermath of the 2007 fire:

It’s just criminal what is happening.There are not enough fire engines, firefighters, planes, helicopters… not enough of anything. What happened to the promises made two years ago ? Where are the firebreaks ? Where are the new planes? Why has it taken the government two days to declare a state of emergency so that Greece can get help from other countries ? We have about three hours of flying time left (firefighting planes can’t function in the dark) and then the residents of these areas are on the own with the few professionals they are “lucky” enough to have nearby.

It’s tragic and unbelievable.

I am sitting here shaking with rage at the lack of foresight the authorities have shown and at the downright lies that people were told after the huge wildfires in 2007.

It’s disgusting.

And you know what’s even more disgusting ? No matter how this all turns out. No matter how many injuries and even deaths. No matter how many homes and businesses are burned.

Absolutely NOTHING will be done to prevent this happening again.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user superbilly16v under a Creative Commons license.

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1 comment


During recent years several demonstrations of very advanced techniques have rendered feasible new forms of energy. Also made conditionally accessible are more preventive and moderating responses to disasters that do not require usages of fossil fuel consuming equipment in dry areas where further ignition can occur. Such very advanced performances are usually selectively locally enacted and also at times announced. But as yet no official responses have been forthcoming. Preliminary stipulations need be formally agreed to by proffering initiating and requesting publically officiating agents, and doing so in advance, before benefits can be regularly ensured. Such engagements constitute true value and deserve -and need yet be- better esteemed. Upon such nuances a more stable economy can be constructed, with benefits accruing to all others without requiring increasing taxation.

Since all countries and nations are vulnerable to the destabilizing effects of a deteriorating local environs and to reoccurring conflagrations, and disasters; prior contractual arrangements might spare both property and lives.

During recent years when demonstrations of more effective ways of controlling wild fires and altering and moderating cyclonic storm fronts were conducted, further offers to assist in introducing more advanced methods in other areas of human concern were mentioned.

In inaccessible fire prone areas such more advanced superimpositions can prove invaluable, but need be arranged for in advance. Once such criteria is met and in place then the measures required for comparatively rapid remediation can be initiated. The public can and should opt for such intercedences.

It is the continued failure on the part of world officials and the public to secure for themselves such advanced assistances that people continue to find themselves in such desperate straits amidst the kind of worsening costly disasters afflicting people in so many areas of the world. Failures to access all that is now actually accessible to prevent and moderate such disasters are among the still ongoing travesties of the times.

For more specifics regarding how such tragedies can be avoided, and when occurring more quickly arrested, further details need be systematically provided. This is not a matter to be casually set forth or dismised. So long has the public mind been conditioned by disastrous inevitabilities that any suggestion they can be moderated, surmounted, avoided and eliminated is usually met with disbelief. It has ever been so.

Intergraded Multiservices

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