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Monday, September 27, 2021

Firefighters, residents dealing with massive wildfire damage on Greece’s Evia Island

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TORONTO — Improved weather conditions have allowed firefighters to control the devastating wildfires on Greece’s Evia Island, but the volatile situation can change in an instant.

While it is still upwards of 40 degrees Celsius in parts of the southwestern Greek island, the wind has calmed down, which has helped firefighters on the ground.

“I don’t know the whole situation, I know it’s improved,” Nick Dukhich, a firefighter from Ukraine, told CTV News.

Dukhich is one of 900 firefighters from across Europe and the Mideast who’ve been brought in to tame the blazes on Evia Islandthat have destroyed 50,000 hectares in the northern region alone.

Evia Island, an area known for its beehives and olive production, has been reduced to ashes in some areas.

“You should have seen my village before,” one man told CTV News in Greek. “There were so many old trees and now nothing.”

The fires began last week in Greece after the country’s worst heatwave in decades left the countryside bone dry.

With the larger fires mostly under control, the firefighters on the ground and helicopters in the air are focused on containing the smaller ones, where every patch of smoke could escalate quickly.

Evia Island isn’t the only area of Greece dealing with devastating forest fires. Some 600 firefighters have been deployed to Olympia and Arcadia, on mainland Greece. Some homes in the region are still burning, according to reports from local state TV.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, Algeria has become a new disaster zone for wildfiresthat have already claimed the lives of at least 65 people, including 28 military personnel.

“I can’t tell you we’re beating the fire, but we’re fighting it with everything we have,” one firefighter said in Arabic.

Substantial wildfires are also burning in Italy and Turkey, claiming the lives of 12 people in total.

With files from The Associated Press

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