Fires continue to rip through Greek island as residents, other countries jump in to help

Twenty countries, including the U.S., have been sending support to Greece.

August 10, 2021, 5:53 AM

Greek residents waited out the wildfires through the night on Sunday, after being evacuated on a ferry off the coast of Pefki, a town in the north of Evia.

In a televised address, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that 586 fires broke out in the last few days after temperatures reached 113 degrees in one of the worst heat waves the country has seen in more than three decades.

Firefighters were still struggling to extinguish the blazes Monday on Evia island, one of the hardest-hit areas. Twenty countries, including the U.S., have been sending in firetrucks, reconnaissance support and manpower to Greece, according to Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Greece.

"In response to a request for support from the government of Greece, I am grateful that the U.S. European Command’s Navy component, part of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe, is providing a P-8 aerial reconnaissance aircraft to support firefighting efforts," Pyatt said in a statement.

PHOTO: A volunteers holds a water hose near a burning blaze as he tries to extinguish a fire in the village of Glatsona on Evia island, on August 9, 2021.
A volunteers holds a water hose near a burning blaze as he tries to extinguish a fire in the village of Glatsona on Evia island, on Aug. 9, 2021. - Firefighters tried to prevent fires from reaching key communities and a thick forest that could fuel an inferno that one official said has destroyed hundreds of homes in seven days on the Greek island of Evia.
ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Mitsotakis apologized for the "weaknesses" of the fire response, saying the wildfires made "obvious that the climate crisis is knocking on the door of the whole planet."

"It’s a shame," one volunteer firefighter told ABC News. "This morning, there was nothing. Now there are two helicopters since 5 p.m.," the volunteer said, deploring the lack of resources to fight the fires. According to reports from Reuters, hundreds of thousands of acres were destroyed in the massive wildfires that tore through the country, and at least one person has died.

On Monday evening, five firefighting trucks and water tankers from Slovakia arrived on the island of Evia to support the local fire brigades.

PHOTO: Local youths and volunteers gather in an open field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire next to a village in northern Evia island on Aug. 9, 2021.
Local youths and volunteers gather in an open field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire next to the village of Kamatriades, near Istiaia, northern Evia island on Aug. 9, 2021. Fires had stabilized or receded in other parts of Greece, but the ones on rugged and forested Evia created apocalyptic scenes.
Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of volunteers are organizing rescue and support for stranded villagers and evacuees.

"If it weren't for them, the young men ... we would have burned," Gianna Anastasiou, a restaurant owner on Evia island told ABC News. Her village has been cut off for days, without electricity and running water.

PHOTO: Local residents help firefighters to extinguish a wildfire on Evia island, Greece, Aug. 10, 2021. Firefighters battled for an eighth day as the nation endured what the prime minister described as "a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions."
Local residents help firefighters from Serbia to extinguish a wildfire at Kamaria village on Evia island, Aug. 10, 2021. Firefighters and residents battled for an eighth day against a massive fire on Greece's second-largest island as the nation endured what the prime minister described as "a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions."
Petros Karadjias/AP

A volunteer firefighter and her family saved 12 pets from the fires that tore through Evia, as some were left behind during evacuations.

"This one is a survivor," 27 year-old Eva Karakassi told ABC News, pointing to one kitten that was rescued from a burning house by a firefighter on Sunday morning.

The pets and their saviors spent the night on the beach, as villages around the island are still in danger from the flames. Over 2,700 residents have been evacuated from the island of Evia, according to the Hellenic coast guard, and the island is under a constant cloud of smoke.

PHOTO: People and pets gather on the beach during a wildfire at Pefki village on Evia island, about 189 kilometers (118 miles) north of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.
People and pets gather on the beach during a wildfire at Pefki village on Evia island, about 189 kilometers (118 miles) north of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. Firefighters and residents battled a massive forest fire on Greece's second largest island for a seventh day Monday, fighting to save what they can from flames that have decimated vast tracts of pristine forest, destroyed homes and businesses and sent thousands fleeing.
Petros Karadjias/AP

Greek authorities announced that 500 million euros would be spent on these areas.

"It’s not over yet," Anastasiou said, fighting through tears and thanking the residents from all over Greece for sending supplies to the affected villages.

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