Greece has been among the most affected countries this year and although wildfires are not a new occurrence for the Mediterranean state, in the month of July, an average of 50 wildfires broke out daily in the country, with a record of 64 new fires on 23 July, leading to evacuations and repatriations as well as a united effort from other EU Member States to help local firefighters tackle the flames.
This wildfire is the largest in the EU since 2000, when the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) began recording data.European Commission
The European Commission has revealed that the wildfires in Greece this summer have been the biggest ever recorded in the EU. Since Greece activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, for the second time this summer, on 20 August, the EU has deployed 11 rescEU firefighting airplanes stationed in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, 1 Blackhawk helicopter from Czechia, 407 firefighters and 62 vehicles from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, France Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.
In the most recent fire, in the Alexandroupolis region, over 81,000 hectares have been burnt so far. “This wildfire is the largest in the EU since 2000, when the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) began recording data”, the institution said in a statement. Just for this, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre has mobilised 11 firefighting planes and 1 helicopter from the rescEU reserve, stationed in 6 Member States. In addition, 6 European countries have contributed with 6 ground forest fire fighting teams via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Moreover, the EU’s Copernicus satellite mapping service has issued 20 maps of the affected areas. This assistance follows the EU’s prompt reaction to Greece’s earlier activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Last month, a coordinated deployment involving 9 planes, 510 firefighters, and 117 vehicles was launched to tackle the escalating wildfires.
“We stand in solidarity with Greece as it battles the devastating wildfires. The European Union’s largest aerial firefighting operation underscores our commitment to swift and effective collective action in times of crisis”, Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the people of Greece, and we will continue working tirelessly to protect lives, property, and the environment. The EU’s unity and cooperation are our strongest assets in overcoming these challenges.”
rescEU was established as a reserve of European capacities, fully funded by the EU. It includes a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters, medical evacuation planes, and a stockpile of medical items and field hospitals that can respond to health emergencies. The rescEU reserve also includes shelters, transport and logistics assets and energy supply items.