Hell of fire in Greece – Valentina (3) has her dad Yanis back!


Athens (Greece) – Father Yanis (49) is flushed with happiness when he embraces his wife Rezina (25) and the children Adonis (1) and Valentina (3) in the village square of Gueves on Monday. He nests his nose against the head of his little one and closes his eyes.

Everyone thought they would never see each other again when Yanis disappeared into the flames on Sunday to save his village on the island of Evia with other farmers.

BILD showed the photo of the little girl who feared for her father, fearful and desperate.



Valentina looked fearful for her father from the car. The girl kept saying: “Our house is burning and my dad is here”Photo: Giorgos Moutafis

But now Valentina can laugh again, has her daddy Yanis back!


The next day the family is happily united.  The father returned safe and sound and was even able to save her home from the flames

The next day the family is happily united. The father returned safe and sound and was even able to save her home from the flamesPhoto: Fabian Matzerath

He first brought his family to safety, then ran back home to save his house from the flames. Wife and children stayed behind at the car.

Rezina was beside herself with worry, staring helplessly at the burning forest. Her little daughter cried and kept saying: “Our house is burning and my papa is here.”

But the powerful Yanis survived the flames and saved the house: Together with neighbors and relatives, he converted sprayers for pesticides and was able to irrigate the surrounding olive trees!


Rezina worried for hours about her husband, who wanted to save his family's house

His wife Rezina also worried for hours about her husband, who wanted to save his family’s housePhoto: Giorgos Moutafis

Survived, but financially before the end

The day after, disillusionment set in. Like about every second islander, the family made a living from the forest. Yanis worked as a forester. But the forest is gone, charred.


Smoke, ash, charred trees: the fires left destruction and desolation behind

Smoke, ash, charred trees: the fires left destruction and desolation behindPhoto: Thodoris Nikolaou / dpa

On Tuesday morning, Mother Rezina stood on the steps of the one-story concrete building that Yanis was protecting. There is still ash everywhere. Your eyes are tired. The little hunk next to her smiles and looks friendly with his googly eyes. He doesn’t understand any of this.

“I was so relieved to see my husband again. He could have burned. We didn’t know if he was still alive, ”says Rezina. “But now we are faced with the ruins of our existence. We don’t know whether the state will help rebuild everything. “

Were the fires started on purpose?

Despina (20) from the nearby port of Pefki says: “Her story is like that of many here. First half of Evia had to burn before help came. ”She tells of the rumors that are told here. The government had started the fires and had them burn specially to build wind farms, and petrol cans were found. Need drives such theories.

Then around Tuesday noon, an emergency signal lands on all cell phones in the area. “Fire in Artemisio! Get away immediately! ”Helicopters are flying towards the forest, some with so-called“ Bambi buckets ”under their hulls, water bags that they fill up in the sea, others with suction trunks that can load 10,000 liters and spray in a targeted manner.


A helicopter picks up seawater with a water bag off the coast of Evia

A helicopter picks up seawater off the coast of Evia with a water bag Photo: Petros Karadjias / AP


A helicopter drains water over a burning forest.  The smoke from the fires darkens the sun

A helicopter drains water over a burning forest. The smoke from the fires darkens the sunPhoto: EPA

The restaurateur Dimitris (53), whose house in Gouves was charred down to the walls, is furious when he looks in the direction of the smoke. “The government let us down,” he says. “Look at the helicopters. Almost all of them are from Serbia, Qatar, Egypt! Where are ours !? “

Hardly anyone listens to the request to evacuate. Not like on Sunday in Gouves. “Policemen walked through the streets with megaphones, but no one listened. The villagers saved themselves, ”says Despina.


A tree is on fire, shining like a huge pillar of fire

A tree is on fire, shining like a huge torchPhoto: Michael Varaklas / AP

German firefighters who are on their way to the fire areas are urgently needed. The first deployment of forest fire units from Bonn will probably be in the Peloponnese, a six-hour drive from Evia. The fires are raging here too.

Even if the last nest of embers has been erased, it is unlikely that Yanis, Rezina, Adonis and Valentina will soon be able to live carefree again. They estimate that 100 years could pass before the villagers can live from the forest again.


Map: Fires out of control on Euboea - infographic

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