No, I’m not burning alive: What you need to know about Greek wildfires
We have a lot of forest. Since the second world war Greece’s forest coverage has increased. I remember the first time I went walking in England with an Ordnance Survey map how shocked I was that every single tree was on the map. This would be impossible in Greece, we have a lot of wild forests, vast forests even near big cities like Athens.
People and property are (thankfully) rarely truly in danger. Sure, in Mati a few years ago, a unique combination of inept politicians and other issues caused a tragedy. But in general, even though fires go near houses, they rarely burn them. Partly because in Greece we build earthquake resistant houses with cement, not wooden toy houses like in America.
Fires are started by either the power company (pylons in forested areas badly maintained causing sparks), people burning old fields or spare material and cigarettes which are often thrown out of cars awaiting the right heat and wind combination. There has been very limited and not really convincing evidence of foreign powers or other conspiracies.
Greece has awesome firefighting capabilities. If you could see the recent fire that came within 500meters of my home you would be impressed. Watching the scene from above I almost pitied the fire, it was like a scene from a film with a constant stream of firefighting helicopters, airplanes and drones attacking it. Targeted shots right on whatever little flame dared appear. It never had a chance. Also importantly the coordination of these vehicles and land firefighters is much improved recently.
The media always hypes things up. They will do anything for an impressive shot. Go to an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere and title it “houses burning” or find an old car someone left in the forest to say that “property destroyed”. Anything you see on the news…cut it by half at least. Also combine it with increased risk aversion on the part of government officials, the “better safe than sorry” approach which I guess is justified. We get evacuation messages even if there is very very little danger.
Yes, this is global warming. Of course it is. Erratic rains late in the summer ensure a lush undergrowth and then extreme heat turns it into tinder. Get to Greece on holiday as soon as possible, last chance to see before it gets turned into one big desert. Unless we all think of something clever (and DO something) we have maybe 10-20 years of it still being the paradise that it is.