Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency in three districts of Rhodes as large forest fires have been ravaging the island for five days. Four villages and one hotel have been evacuated so far.
Severe heat wave over Rhodes and the rest of southern Europe.
– There is a fire in the large green forest areas near our village here in the heart of Rhodes. The fires have destroyed more than 30,000 hectares. Our firefighters are fighting but they say they have to get help from outside, says Marina Korkida, 53, from Boras who has lived in the village of Salakos with her Greek husband for more than 25 years.
– I usually guide tourists here. It is an idyllic green area with small villages that tourists love. Now, she says, much has been destroyed.
Forced to evacuate
She and her husband were forced to evacuate their village because of the danger of the fire spreading, but they were later allowed to return. Then she was evacuated again when she visited her daughter in another village.
– We visited my daughter and her family in the neighboring village of Ileusa. The army came and wanted us out. Marina says there is a big military facility with explosives, so there was a risk of explosion.
– We left the village in a large column of cars. My daughter has four young children. She says we saw smoke and smelled fire.
The fire broke out near the village of Apollona on Tuesday evening and spread to the large forested area in central and western Rhodes. Rhodes Town and the tourist resorts on the east coast are not considered threatened.
Marina says that her husband, Efthymios, and their son, Timothy, 28, one of their five children, have now climbed Mount Prophet Elias to fight the fire as volunteer firefighters. She says they work day and night, but they are unable to stop the fire.
My husband and son are on the mountain right now with about a hundred volunteers. The fire crew needs outside help. They have taken in 25 firefighters from the mainland, and that’s all they can provide there because there are fires in many places, says Marina.
She says that the wildlife in the forests is being harmed, for example many deer died in the fire.
Large fires also broke out near the capital, Athens, several days ago. Greece has received international waterbomber assistance from several European Union countries and from Israel.
– It burned here before in the summer. There were horrific forest fires in 2016. But this is the worst fire ever, says Marina Korkeda.
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