A Disaster in Greece: A Massive Forest Fire Recognized as the Largest Wildfire Ever Recorded in the EU
A Disaster in Greece: A Massive Forest Fire Recognized as the Largest Wildfire Ever Recorded in the EU

A massive forest fire in Greece has been recognized as the largest wildfire ever recorded within the European Union (EU). The EU has mobilized a significant portion of its firefighting air fleet to combat the blaze, which is located north of the city of Alexandroupoli. According to Balazs Ujvari, a European Commission spokesperson, eleven planes and a helicopter from the EU's firefighting fleet, along with 407 firefighters, have been dispatched to help control the fire.

The extent of the fire's devastation is substantial, having burned more than 310 square miles (810 square kilometers), an area larger than New York City. This wildfire marks the largest such incident in the EU since 2000, when the European Forest Fire Information System (Effis) began tracking such data.

The fire remains uncontained in the Dadia national park in the northeast region of Greece, a crucial sanctuary for birds of prey. Since its ignition on August 19, the fire has tragically claimed the lives of 20 individuals, with 18 of them being migrants whose bodies were discovered in an area frequently used as an entry point from neighboring Turkey.

To combat wildfires, the EU relies on a fleet of 28 aircraft, which includes 24 water-dropping planes and four helicopters, contributed by member countries. The EU is also working on establishing a dedicated EU-funded air wing consisting of 12 aircraft, expected to be fully operational by 2030. The ongoing severity of wildfires underscores the need for increased firefighting capabilities across member states.

Greece has been grappling with a series of fires throughout the summer, attributed to the climate crisis by both the government and experts. The swift deployment of firefighting resources in response to this wildfire highlights the EU's commitment to collective action during times of crisis, as noted by Janez Lenarčič, the EU's commissioner for crisis management.

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