Fire in Greece: Valentina (3) believed her papa was burned

The view is empty, tears shimmer in her eyes – and the sky behind her is red from the fire that rages around her village …

Little Valentina (3) believed that her papa Yanis was dead, burned in the hellfire of Evia – because he wanted to save his house!

In the morning, the first warning message came on the residents’ cell phones: “Forest fires! Leave the area around Gouves immediately. ”Hardly anyone listened to this. People didn’t want to abandon their belongings. Not even Yanis (49).

The father of the family Yanis (49) points to the flames that threaten his village. His family is safe here on the mountainPhoto: Giorgos Moutafis

He brings his family – his wife Rezina (25), his daughter Valentina and his son Adonis (1) – to safety in the car up a mountain some distance away. Then he runs off. It’s around 2 p.m.

Houses and pine trees are already on fire – but Yanis struggles to save his house. His family can only wait, fear and pray helplessly for him to come back. Hours go by.

Rezina fears for her husband Yanis, who wants to save the family home from the flames

Rezina fears for her husband Yanis, who wants to save the family home from the flamesPhoto: Giorgos Moutafis

“The fire burned our house, my dad wanted to save it,” says little Valentina over and over again and sobs. Her mother Rezina is in shock and even wants to take the children towards the flames.

Then, around 4.30 p.m., finally the redeeming news: Yanis is alive and has been able to save the house! With neighbors and relatives, he converted sprayers for pesticides and watered the surrounding olive trees!

A little later, the family is in each other’s arms – and Valentina can hug her dad very tightly.

BILD reporter Til Biermann is on site on the Greek island of Evia (also: Evia) and witnessed the heartbreaking fate. This family was very lucky: they all survived and their home is still standing.

Desperate fight against the flames - with a hose

Desperate fight against the flames – with a hose Photo: ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP

People delete even with the simplest means

Other residents are not so lucky: Since the fires broke out on the island east of Athens, there has been a state of emergency: Hundreds of fires are blazing, especially in the north the situation has gotten out of control! The region is almost completely cut off from the rest of the island.

The fires have been raging for more than five days, huge areas of forest are in flames. But help on a large scale does not arrive, there is a lack of professional helpers everywhere, fire-fighting planes, fire engines, reports the BILD reporter: “Only yesterday two fire-fighting planes arrived trying to extinguish with seawater. In vain.”

Self-help: These men fight the flames with garden hoses on Evia

Self-help: These men fight the flames with garden hoses on Euboea Photo: BILD

And so the residents help themselves, fight with the simplest means against the huge fire roller – with buckets, hoses, wheelbarrows.

Around 1,400 people had to be evacuated from the island by ferry, the land route was cut off by the fires.

A travel bag, a handbag, two bags: that's all this woman was able to take with her when she was evacuated

A travel bag, a handbag, two bags: that’s all this woman was able to take with her when she was evacuatedPhoto: Petros Karadjias / dpa

Map: Fires out of control on Euboea - infographic

The clouds of smoke and the glow of fire can still be seen over 100 kilometers away on the mainland. Burned, dead trees soar into the sky, gray-black ash covers the land, billows of smoke darken the sky. According to Greek media, around 50,000 hectares of land on Evia are said to have been destroyed in the flames.

The situation around the city of Istiaia is currently dramatic: on Monday night, the fire brigade fought without air support in the suburb of Monokaria to prevent it from spreading to the city with its around 7,000 inhabitants. Even during the day, fire-fighting planes and fire-fighting helicopters would have “serious difficulties” because of the thick smoke and very limited visibility, said Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias.

New heat wave expected

The weather will make the situation even more difficult in the coming days: From Monday on, a new heat wave will begin in southern Europe, with temperatures in many places rising to over 40 degrees. Uncontrolled fires also continue to rage on the Peloponnese peninsula and Crete.

After Ukraine, Cyprus, Israel, Croatia and Sweden, Germany has finally agreed to help. Around 200 firefighters are on their way to the island nation of Greece with 44 vehicles. By land.

The people of Euboea can probably not breathe easy for a long time.

Further dramatic situation around the Mediterranean

► Also in the Turkey the fires raged on in the tourist regions on the Mediterranean. For days, the rescue workers have not been able to get major fires in the provinces of Antalya and Mugla under control. Almost 12,000 houses and more than 36,000 people have been evacuated in Mugla alone, spokesmen for local authorities said. According to official information, 2000 houses have been damaged so far.

► In Italy More than 400 people were taken from their accommodations on Sunday evening due to fires around the Italian Adriatic community of Campomarino. The authorities evacuated hotels, campsites and houses in the district of Campomarino Lido by the sea. On a video of the fire brigade you can see how thick smoke moved through the streets and how flames eroded through bushes to a café. The Italian civil protection authority is also sending reinforcements to the region of Calabria, which has been badly affected by forest fires. There it burned, among other things, in the Aspromonte National Park.

Map: Devastating forest fires on the Mediterranean - Infographic


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