Alexandroupolis wildfire ‘worst the EU has faced’

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With more than 73,000 hectares burnt, the fires in Alexandroupolis, Greece, are the largest on record the EU has faced, said  EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič.

In a post on the X platform Thursday, he said: “We must continue strengthening national & collective prevention and preparedness efforts in view of more brutal fire seasons.”

Fires that have claimed 20 lives in Greece are still burning out of control in foothills outside Athens and the Evros region near the border with Turkey.

Eighteen of those killed are thought to be refugees and migrants who crossed the border recently, hiding in forests north of the city of Alexandroupolis.

Greece has expressed its deepest sorrow for the deaths in the Dadia forest close to Turkey.

Fires have burned near the city and west along the coast for five days.

Firefighters – including those from Cyprus — are also trying to stop a fire spreading from the slopes of Mount Parnitha to the northwest of Athens.

Their efforts are being hindered by strong winds whipping up the flames and searing heat of up to 40C.

This latest inferno follows wildfires ravaging Greece, marking the worst since 2008.

“Greece has already experienced by far its worst July in terms of forest fires since 2008.

“The burnt area is larger, and the fires are more intense and violent, destroying more surface area than before.

“The fire in Alexandroupolis – has already damaged homes and led to the evacuation of eight villages,” Lenarčič said.

After wildfires broke out in the Alexandroupolis, the EU sent two aircraft, 56 firefighters and 10 vehicles.

In addition, a team of ground firefighters pre-deployed by France is already in Greece as part of the EU’s forest fire preparedness plan.

The Commission remains in close contact with the Greek authorities through its Emergency Response Coordination Centre and stands ready to mobilise additional assistance if necessary.