Greece deploys foreign firefighters for the third year running to help tackle wildfires

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece is reinforcing its firefighting teams this summer with 240 firefighters from Bulgaria, Malta, Moldova and Romania, who will be deployed in the country from early July until mid-September, during the height of the wildfire season, officials said Tuesday.

It will be the third year running that firefighters from abroad will be stationed in Greece, which has been experiencing devastating forest and brush fires during its hot, dry summers.

The first foreign team from Bulgaria was already in the country and was stationed in the northern city of Thessaloniki, while a second team of 15 from Malta was due to arrive mid-month and will be stationed in southern Greece, the country’s Civil Protection Ministry said.

On Monday, scores of people were evacuated from hotels and homes on the eastern Aegean islands of Kos and Chios as ground forces and water-dropping aircraft battled two large forest fires. Five people were reportedly slightly injured – four firefighters and one volunteer – while one man was arrested in Chios and fined more than 8,000 euros for allegedly causing the wildfire there.

In the 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, 36 wildfires broke out across the country, the fire department said, with the vast majority tackled in their early stages.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, speaking during a Cabinet meeting Monday, said this year’s summer was predicted to be “particularly dangerous” for wildfires.

Hot and dry weather with strong winds helped fan fires in both Greece and Turke y last month. This year’s summer is expected to be particularly prone to blazes following a mild, dry winter. Last year, extensive wildfires in Greece killed more than 20 people.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up