Chios, July 25, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
A large fire has been raging since the early hours of Monday in a woodland area of the island of Chios, at the south part of the island, which has been declared in a state of emergency.
The fire broke out at 03.15 in a woodland area between the villages Vessa and Lithi and spread quickly, especially to the southwest, thus approaching the settlements of Lithi, Meston and St. George Sykousis, burning pine forest, crops and mastic trees.
There is a nearly complete destruction of the mastic trees plantations in the villages Elata, Vessa and Lithi. According to the president of the Union of Mastic Producers, G. Toybos, the destruction in these villages exceeds 90%. Significant is the damage at Olympi, Mesta and in the area between Vessa and Agios Georgios Sykousis.
The conditions are particularly difficult due to the strong northern winds, intensity 7-8 Beaufort, that are blowing in the area. At the site are 16 vehicles of the fire-brigade with 38 firefighters, 72 soldiers, 40 volunteers, 11 people hiker section, 21 water lorries and two earthmovers. Six helicopters a operating in the area, dropping water.
Four Canadair aircrafts have arrived on the spot as well, albeit with marked delay, due to the high waves at sea, which initially did not allow them to fill the tanks with water.
The army has been mobilized to gelp
Fire Brigade Operations Lieutenant, Lieutenant Athanasios Serentellos, has arrived on the island by helicopter to supervise the fire fighting work. A fire fighting hiker unit of 30 people has also arrived from Athens.
In addition to that, 50 officers of the Armed Forces and the Fire Brigade has also arrived on the island with a C-130 of the Air Force to bolster ground forces.
Given the difficult situation due to the devastating fire on the island, the prefect of Northern Aegean Christiana Kalogerou asked to declare in a state of emergency, the municipality of Lithio, Vessa, Elata, Mesta, Olympi and Pyrgi, a request that was accepted by the Civil Protection Secretariat.
According to the mayor of Chios, Manolis Vournikas, the fire first approached the village of Elata, burning some home yards at the edge of the village. Some people left the village because of the fumes, without having received such instructions.
Speaking to AMNA, the deputy prefect of Chios Stamatis Karmantzis said that there are three fronts of the fire, one from Vessa to Agios Georgios Sykousis, a second from Vessa to Armolia and a third in the area of Keros near Pyrgi. “We are optimistic, there were no losses in the settlements and we will manage to deal with and the constant revivals”, Karmantzis said.
To the island arrives on Tuesday the Minister of Rural Development and Food Evangelos Apostolou, accompanied by the President of ELGA Fanis Kourempes, in order to visit the affected areas and to coordinate damage assessment process and compensation of farmers.
The fire has awaken memories of the devastating fire in August 2012, which had destroyed 146,000 acres.