Sunday, January 16

The Evia fire is “unapproachable” from the air and “we can only trust the ground media”

The fire started two weeks ago in Greece and This Monday a plane arrived in the Hellenic country, eleven personnel from the Air Force and five from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) to help put out fires. Since they landed they have not stopped flying, says Reinaldo Fernández Boyero, captain of the 43rd Group of the Air Force of the Air Force that is deployed there.

«The area that worries the most is the island of Evia, but right now it is difficult to work there due to the low visibility what is there because of the smoke from the fires. Yesterday it was impossible to operate and reach the island ”, says the pilot by phone. This makes extinction even more difficult.

of the fire that only has firefighters and ground devices and the little air support that is capable of reaching. For the moment “Fire is unapproachable from the air” and regrets that “we can only trust terrestrial means”.

The flames continue unabated and thousands of hectares have already been burned, hundreds of buildings have been destroyed and more than 2,700 people have had to be evacuated by sea. “Seen from the air you get an idea of ​​the magnitude of the disaster that this type of forest fires involves. Not only for razing thousands of hectares, but also all the damage to private property, evacuated villages … You are flying over completely devastated areas», Assures Captain Fernández Boyero.

It’s probably one of the biggest fires I’ve ever seen. I only found a similar situation in Portugal in 2017 », he points out. «In Spain I have not seen fires like this, I think because we have one of the best fire extinguishing devices in the world by far. Once you go abroad and go to other countries, you realize how lucky we are in Spain of how organized everything is and the investment that is made in it, “he says.

The island is the second largest in the Hellenic country, it is located 200 kilometers east of Athens and has a mountainous and wooded landscape that makes extinction efforts even more difficult. The head of the 43rd Group of the Air Force of the Air Force explains that “This rugged terrain often prevents trucks from accessing some areas”Therefore, for firefighters and volunteers “it is a very physical job to which we must add the risk and the high temperatures that are reached”.

The terrestrial media treat this Tuesday of eprevent the flames from reaching the town of Istiea, with thousands of inhabitants. “We are expecting air support, but we will see if the smoke allows it to fly,” Istiea Mayor Yiannis Kotzias said on ERT public television.

Despite not being able to reach the island yesterday, the pilot diverted towards the south and east of Greece, where there is also fires that threatened urban areas for whose extinction aerial equipment is required. Although there is only one plane in the country, there are two crews that take turns every day, since the days are “very intense.” “At 7 in the morning we set off but you don’t land until 8 in the afternoon”, explains Captain Fernández Boyero.

From the fires in Turkey to those in Greece

The 43rd Air Force Group of the Air Force has been out of Spain since August 2. “We were first activated through the European Union Civil Protection mechanism (the RescEU initiative) to go to Turkey. We attended 22 soldiers from the Air Force and five members of the UME to provide logistical support and From day 3 we flew about nine hours a day and an average of 25 downloads each plane», It indicates. Already on Sunday the endowment was separated in two to also meet the needs of Greece.

These fires are, for the most part, of generation 6 and “exceed the capabilities of extinguishing devices”, so we must mobilize many means and international aid and cooperation to be able to completely extinguish them, explains the person in charge, who points out that this type of fires will be more frequent each time.

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