Ecological disaster on Greek island as fire burns on

MAKRYMALLI, Greece: Firefighters on the Greek island of Evia were still battling on Wednesday to contain a fire that has caused massive damage to a pristine mountain wildlife habitat after threatening four communities.
“Things are going better, but we must not relax our vigilance,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters aboard a fire department bus. The blaze burned for a second day in a ravine at the 550-hectare wildlife habitat of Agrilitsa, causing major damage to pine forests.
“It’s a huge ecological disaster in a unique, untouched pine forest,” said acting regional governor Costas Bakoyannis.
The fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday on Greece’s second-largest island prompted the evacuation of three villages and threatened the town of Psachna during the night, officials said.
“From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli everything has been burned down. It’s fortunate that we do not have human victims,” Thanassis Karakatzas, a deputy regional civil protection officer, told state agency ANA.
Over 200 firefighters were in action backed by 75 fire trucks, nine water-bombing helicopters and seven planes along a 12-kilometre front, managing to avert damage to inhabited areas.
“We succeeded in protecting human lives and saving properties,” said citizen’s protection minister Michalis Chrisohoidis. — AFP