July 17, 2015

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BREAKING - Major fire breaks out near Neapoli, Laconia - Local villages threatened

Greece is under attack. Once again we are witnessing an unprecedented and suspicious attack on our country just like we did eight years ago (or in 2007) with the fires in the Peloponnese. Currently there are 43 fires blazing across the country (or in Attiki, Laconia, Argolis, Evia and Malakasa).

(Please note: HellasFrappe will continue to post updates on the fire in the Peloponnese every time we get more information because we know that there are many people in the Diaspora with family here. Check back every so often for more. ^Also, we will post updates about all the other areas which are currently and suspiciously ablaze all over Greece.)

UPDATE 20:30 Local Time - The fire which began in the area of Malakasa, 30klm north of Athens was finally put under control, but a little before 20:30 local time SKAI Tv reported that the blaze was once again becoming a problem. Luckily three camps were evacuated in this area for precautionary reasons. In Athens - Firefighters are still battling the fire that broke out in the area of Kareas. In Laconia, it was reported that at least 17 homes have been burned as well as several businesses in the city center. The flames are still swiping through the city of Neapoli while all the nearby villages have been evacuated.

The social networks are ablaze with pictures of the smoke that is hovering over the Greek capital but certainly the photo below which was published by newsit is indeed the most characteristic.

Back in Athens Defence Panos Kammenos said that the army will begin routine patrols of all the areas affected and said that Greece was facing an unprecedented attack.

The pilots that are flying some of the helicopters used in the blaze in Laconia are some of the best in the world. Check out the video below. The pilot is attempting to release the water so as to put out the flame, but gets caught in a small whirlwind and is inches from crashing the helicopter. Check out how he handles the chopper and gets the job done. Incredible!

UPDATE 18:30 Local Time -In the area of Laconia: Houses were destroyed in the villages of Faraklo, Lahi, and Agios Nikolaos. The residents of the area were evacuated and transferred to other areas in the Peloponnese for their safety. Currently the 15-kilometer blaze is totally out of control and although there is a huge force battling the blaze the gale force winds which are hitting the area are making it difficult to put it under control. In Athens the fire that broke out at 12:30 pm local time in Kareas spread rapidly due to the strong winds in the area. Thick smoke has covered the entire region of Attika. A tavern was burned and a home was evacuated and the nuns of Agios Ioannis monastery were also transferred to safety. Due to a sudden change in wind direction the fire then began to move towards the area of Ano Glyfada (Aixoni) area and after 17:00 local time it began to move to the area of ​​Vari. And if that wasn't enough, another fire erupted in the area of Koropi, near the training center of the Panathinaikos soccer team. The fire that broke out in Argolida was reported to have started at a dump at Tolo near the city of Nafplio. The fire that erupted in the area of Malakasa, began near the church of Agia Marina, and is now moving near the Milesi area. The flames are very close to the highway. And finally the front that is raging on the island of Evia between the areas of Pissonas and Afrati is totally out of control.

UPDATE Local Time 17:30 - Update on the fire on the island of Evia: The flames have encircled the village of Afrati. As such, the village residents were immediately transferred to other nearby areas for their safety. The Mayor of Pisona (Mr. Psathas) told newsit that the fire is burning out of control and the fierce winds that are blowing in the area are not helping to put it under control. Fire fighters are attempting to create a safety zone around the village but the height of the flames are so great that their efforts are proving to be fruitless. There are a number of forces on scene from Central Greece, and together with volunteers and the Municipality of Messapion they are all trying to battle the fire.

UPDATE 17:00 Local Time -Two new fires have sparked up, one in the area of Argolida, with two fronts, (specifically in Drepano and Iria) and another in the area of Malakasa in Attiki. In Lakonia, many homes have been burning in villages like Faraklo and Lahi, while residents were said to be trapped at the seashore of Aghios Nikolaos awaiting to be rescued by boats. The death of a 58 year old Greek man (who was a permanent resident of Switzerland), was confirmed. Apparently the victim died of respiratory problems caused by the thick smoke. In Attiki, fire fighting forces and firefighting planes are also trying to combat the flames, despite the high winds. Despite their efforts, several homes have already been destroyed, a neighborhood playground was burned to the ground and flames have also surrounded a local church. Dozens of people, including elderly women covering their faces with headscarves, tried to put out the flames with buckets of water. Addressing reporters, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that citizens need to remain "calm."  He said that he has asked the air force and armed forces for help and had also appealed to other European countries for assistance with extra fire-fighting aircraft. And finally, while speaking to Greek TV from the scene of one of the fires, Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis was heckled by angry residents who accused him of doing "micro politics" and urged him to "take off" his jacket "and help" instead of just standing there and selling himself as a politician.

 In order to get a grasp of how intense the fires in Lakonia and Athens are, the satellite picture below was posted on enikos which shows the smoke from the fires as seen from space.

UPDATE 14:45 Local Time  - Another fire just broke out in the area of Pissona near Halkida. According to initial reports the fire is raging out of control in the areas of Pissona and Afrati. Local firefighters have rushed to the area and are soon to be joined by other firefighting forces from Lamia, Livadia, Amfissa and Karpenisi. Meanwhile Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rushed to the Pentagon to be briefed by Minister of Public Order P.Panousis who called on our EU partners to send reinforcements (France and Italy).  Meanwhile, the Ministers of Transport and the General Secretariat of Health, Christos Spirtzis and Giannis Mboskozos are heading south to Lakonia. In Attika the fire has already caused damages to some of the homes that boarder forest land on Ymmitos Mountain and now the fire is heading towards the area of Argyroupoli. The smoke has covered the entire areas of Ilioupoli, Kareas and Vyronas.

 UPDATE 14:15 Local Time - (We are living another 2007) - Another fire suddenly broke out in the area of Koropi, Attica 16klm southeast of Athens near the training ground of Panathinakos football club. As soon as HellasFrappe has information about this front we will make a relevant update. Meanwhile the causes of the fire that broke out a couple of hours ago near Athens, or specifically in the Kareas region, (close to the municipal cemetery of Vironas on Ymittos Mountain) are still unknown. Strong gales are blowing over the area making it very difficult for fire-fighters to put the fire out. At present, a smoke cloud has covered the Ymittos mountain and the Katechaki highway. In Laconia, the fire has now taken on grand proportions because of extreme gale-force winds which are blowing in the area (said to be 8-9 Beaufort). As reported by ERT and SKAI Tv in Greece, the fire is now just 500 meters from the Neapoli Maritime Museum. At the same time, the Kastana village and mountainous area behind the village are also at risk. A major operation is also currently underway to remove tourists from the beaches of Agia Marina and Prophiti Elias.

UPDATE 13:30 Local Time - The fire has swept through the village of Mesochori and this front is now heading towards the city of Neapoli. There are unconfirmed reports that one man has died (55 years of age) from suffocation. As reported by ERT Tv, τhe fire has swept through the villages of Lahi, Faraklo, Agios Nicholas, Velanidia, and the Neapoli medical center is now being evacuated because the fire is less than a few meters away. The winds are estimated to be at 8-9 Beaufort. Local residents who spoke on ERT Tv claim that they are waiting for boats to collect people at the Neapoli port (so as to get them out of harms way) because they have no other way to escape the area.

UPDATE 13.15 Local time - According to ERT a CANADAIR fire fighting was forced to land after battling the blaze near Neapoli, both pilots are apparently out of danger. The reasons the plane was forced to land are still unknown. According to ERT, the fire has now encircled the area of Neapoli  (or right above the town's cemetery) and is slowly approaching residential homes. All forces are on alert. -At the same time a second fire began to blaze in the area of Karea, near Vyrona on the outskirts of Athens. 

UPDATE 11.15 Local time - Reinforcements from the entire Peloponnese have been rushed to the area of the Akrotirio Maleas because the blaze - 15 kilometer front according to ERT- is out of control. Reports said that two villages and a summer camp have already been evacuated. More than 120 firefighters have been dispatched to the area, supported by at least 50 fire engines, four aircraft and two helicopters, but their battle with the blaze is challenging because of mountainous terrain and near-gale winds.

Original story

A fire broke out in the forest area in Neapoli, Laconia (in the area of Faraklo and Laki) early on Friday morning and according to reports it has already swept through two villages and is threatening others in the area. Speaking on SKAI tv in Greece, the mayor of Monemvasia Heracles Tricheilis said that fire fighting authorities are battling the blaze but the strong winds in the area are making their work nearly impossible. A report on newsit claims that there are more than 50 firefighters and 20 vehicles in the area, along with many other forces who have joined in the effort as well. Fire firefighting planes were also dispatched to the area but could not reach the front of the fire due to the strong winds, and therefore a helicopter was sent to aid instead. The fire, which apparently broke out at 4:00 am on Friday morning from unknown causes, is being fueled from extremely strong winds. The damages from the fire are still unknown (burnt homes, or any victims). HellasFrappe will be updating this article as soon as more information and videos are available.

Reference - SKAI, Newsit

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