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Athens "lungs" burnt

25 August 2009 / 10:08:57  GRReporter
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According to firefighters the strength of the fires in northeast Attica is slowing down and this is the reason some firefighter trucks and some airplanes left for Dioni region towards Pikermi, where earlier the fire was very close to many homes.

In order for cars not to get trapped in the fire, the police stopped the traffic on Marathonas boulevard, where today a firefighting truck could not get out of the smoke and the flames and burnt in Pikermi. Numerous pine forests burnt, not only in Pendeli and Vioni but also in the port village Porto Germano, west of Athens. The thick pine forest, which was surrounding the hills of the village, is already history. The citizens of the region spent the night on the beach and even though the fire has been put out, they are determined to spend tonight under the open sky as well. The tourists left the village during the first signs of fire in the region. Fortunately there were no burnt houses, neither people with breathing problems caused by the burnt smell.

At noon today the smell of the burnt forest was all around Pendeli and the view was heartbreaking - a dead grey landscape with rising smoke from the still burning hot spots, which blaze up by the strong wind. The fire in the suburb started yesterday and after it was put out once, this morning it started again but it was put out right away.

Today there are about ten cisterns and few firefighter trucks in the Pendeli region, where hot spots which can cause a new fire, are being put out. No one is allowed in the "black regions," where it seems that the disaster has passed. The fire had reached the fences and locals say with relief that "it could have been worse." There are material damages - a tavern owner says that her grill and the refrigerators have burnt and the total damages in the burnt restaurant account for about €50 000.

Help was received by France - two airplanes, Turkey - one airplane and tomorrow another two airplanes are going to arrive from Spain and 100 people from Cyprus with firefighter trucks.

Right now the biggest and strongest fire is in Kiterona and it is hard to put it out due to the strong winds and the impossibility for an airplane to help. 100 soldiers, 8 helicopters and many firefighter trucks are fighting against the fire right now in this region, which is also covered with a pine forest. According to meteorologists at about 6-7:00PM today the strength of the winds will decrease but tomorrow they will be blowing again with strengths of 5 to 6. When the winds are with this strength, it is said that one can barely hold an umbrella and the big tree branches sway. When the winds reach strength of 7, one cannot walk against the wind. All together 16 airplanes, 3 helicopters, 132 firefighter trucks, 469 firefighters and 300 soldiers are fighting against the wildfires.

It is forecasted that tomorrow the regions in danger of fires are Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, Euboea, Athens and East Attica. The firefighters beseech people not to burn dry branches, not to use tools, which can create sparks and not to throw away burning cigarettes. The traffic was stopped by traffic police on many roads around Attica - Vilia-Portos Germanos, Stamata and Rodopoli, Klisten and Anapavsi, Marathonos Boulevard and Aghia Paraskevi.

According to ecologists the wildfires during the past three days caused an "ecological catastrophe," because except for the pine forests, the mechanism for refreshing the Athens air is gone. Now when the wind passes through the burnt regions it will not be refreshed and it will warm up, which will cause the greenhouse effect in Athens. For a long period of time the temperature in Athens will increase drastically, because the northern forests were working as an "AC."

"In long-term it is expected that the concentration of microorganisms in the atmosphere will increase, because the Athens "lungs" were destroyed," shares Professor Mihalis Petrakis from the Institute of Environment Research.

Useful telephone numbers:

Civil protection general secretariat: 210 3359 002-3

Emergency line: 112

Fire department: 199

Police: 100

First aid: 166


Tags: NewsCrime newsFireWildfire
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