1318 – the aftermath of the Athos forest fires August 2012

One of our Dutch readers, Hans Overduin, finished his visit to Athos on August 14th, just after the recent fires were extinguished on August 12th (see post 1315). The next day he had the opportunity to see the results of the devastating fires near Ouranopolis.

Here are some of his pictures:

15_140812_Bulgaarse_brandweerwagens_Meg_Jovantsa_bFire brigade and wagons at Arsanas Chilandariou

07_140812_Nea_Thebais 05_140812_Kust_tussen_M-Jovantsa_en_N-ThebaisThe fire almost reached Nea Thebais!

06_140812_Teleopname_kust_nabij_N-ThebaisThe hills near Chromitsa. Luckily the area marketing manager Christos Bitzios of tsantali told us this in a recent e-mail:

“The vineyards of Metochi Chromitsa on Mount Athos haven’t affected by the fire, only the forests around the vineyards and down to the borders and Ouranoupoli. God helped us to avoid the fire coming down to the vineyards”.

19_140812_Tot_hier_kwam_het_vuur_aan_de_kustHere the fire reached the coastline

08_140812_Arsanas_Chromitsa_grens_en_ZygosThe border between Athos and Greece and the Zygos ruins

31_140812_Kust_met_eerste_huizen_OuranoupolisThe first houses near Ouranopolis, not affected by the fire!


Near the Athos border: fire trucks

12_150812_gestolde_modderstroom_agv_stortbuien_grens_AgionOrosThe border: black mud coming down from the hills

38_150812_Zygps_met_bus_brandweerThe ruins of old Zygos monastery: burnt trees

41_150812_Grens_AgionOros_met_AmoulianiThe beach near the border, with Amouliani on the background. Will these large pines ever be green again?

I’ll finish with two Greeks newspaper articles:


Bosbrand_Athos_aug2012_b_843Wim, 29/8 (thanks to Hans Overduin)

Supplement: texts from the Greek press:

Blaze on Mount Athos forces some to flee

Firefighters were still trying on Thursday night to get under control a blaze that broke out on Mount Athos in northern Greece — the location of a semi-autonomous monastic community and World Heritage site — which threatened the resort of Ouranoupoli.

The fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon in the Monoxylitis area of the mountain, in the vicinity of the Serbian Orthodox Hilandar Monastery, which is the northernmost of the community and was damaged by fire in 2004. By Thursday morning, the fire had begun to approach Ouranoupoli, a popular destination for tourists visiting Halkidiki. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

“At these difficult times, panicking is the worst thing you can do,” said Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou. “We have to be calm, collected and coordinated, and citizens have to listen to authorities’ instructions.”

More than 100 firefighters, 40 fire engines, three water dropping airplanes and three helicopters were deployed in the effort to put out the blaze. Karaoglou describe the work carried out by the fire service as “heroic.”

Their work was made difficult by the tinderbox conditions caused by the latest summer heat wave and less rainfall than usual this year. The wind also picked up yesterday and frequent changes in its direction created extra problems for firefighters who attempted to tackle the front, which spread over 25 kilometers.

Dozens of people were evacuated from holiday homes and hotels as the fire approached Ouranoupoli and thick smoke became dangerous for children and those with health problems. “Ouranoupoli is not under threat at the moment,” deputy mayor of the local municipality of Aristoteli, Constantinos Katsavavakis, told kathimerini.gr. “There has been a partial evacuation of people,” he said. In Tripoli, in the Peloponnese, a 45-year-old man was arrested and charged with accidentally starting a fire that burned in the area of Arcadia for two days.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday August 9, 2012 (21:54)


Mt. Athos fire forces evacuation, Arcadia in state of emergency

Hotels in the resort of Ouranoupoli have been evacuated after a fire broke out in Mount Athos in northern Greece and authorities declared the area to be in a state of emergency. A similar alert was signaled in Arcadia, in the Peloponnese, where several villages were affected by a fire that has been burning for three days, razing land and damaging several homes.

Four water dropping airplanes and two helicopters were helping in the effort to put out the blaze near Ouranoupoli, which stared in the area of Monoxylitis. The local mayor asked for elderly people and young children to gather on Ierissos beach for safety reasons.

Authorities in the Peloponnese said that a blaze which started in thee area of Megalopoli, and has been burning for three days, was finally being brought under control. The Civil Protection Authority declared the area to be in a state of emergency however as hundreds of hectares of land were destroyed by the flames.

A 45-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing the fire by discarding a cigarette among dried scrubs. Greece has been experiencing one of its hottest summers on record, leading to dry conditions which fuel forest fires.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday August 9, 2012 (13:15)


Firefighters continue to battle Mt Athos blaze

Serbian firefighters on Saturday continued their participation in a Greek effort to extinguish a wildfire that began on Mount Athos, northern Greece, on Wednesday and which had threatened the resort of Ouranoupoli, as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ordered Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou to visit the area.

Six water-bombing airplanes and seven helicopters were taking part in the operation along with dozens of local firefighters. A spokesman for the fire service, Nikos Tsongas, told Skai that the winds were not strong and that no monasteries were in danger.

Wildfires that broke out in Spathovouni in Corinthia and Rapsommati in Arcadia had been mostly contained on Saturday. Three suspects were detained in connection with the fires in Corinth, Arcadia and Mount Athos.

ekathimerini.com , Saturday August 11, 2012 (14:51)


Mount Athos fire under control after five days

A fire that had been burning on Mount Athos for five days was brought under control on Sunday following heavy rain. The rainfall began early on Sunday and was vital in putting out the wildfire, which firefighters had struggled with.
It is estimated that the blaze burned its way through some 4,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land. Assessors were due to survey the damage on Monday to begin the process of issuing state compensation for farmers and vineyard owners.

ekathimerini.com , Monday August 13, 2012 (08:12)

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