BRITISH holidaymakers have been warned of an “extreme fire risk” in Crete as large swaths of Rhodes and Corfu go up in flames.
Greece’s authorities have issued a “Level 5 – state of alert” for wildfires tomorrow across the holiday hotspot areas of Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lasithi.
Greece’s Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection issued the “extreme risk” alert for tomorrow on the largest of the Greek islands.
Crete could be facing the same fate as Rhodes and Corfu, which have seen extraordinary blazes sweep across through the islands – causing thousands to flee.
The ministry said that all civil protection services have been placed in “a state of heightened readiness/alarm provided…due to the increased risk of occurrence and spread of forest fires.”
The Greek government at the same time issued a “very high fire risk (category 4)” warning across huge swaths of the country.
This includes the regions of Chania in Crete, central and western Greece, Attica, north and south Aegean, Thessaly, Peloponeese and the Ionian islands.
In Rhodes, more than 16,000 people were evacuated by land and 3,000 by sea from 12 villages and several hotels in the largest evacuation effort Greece has ever seen.
Terrified holidaymakers have been forced to flee burning hotels, wade through water and sleep on gym floors – with repatriation flights finally arriving on Monday to rush Brits out of the country.
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said up to 10,000 British tourists are currently on the island, many of whom are facing a “living nightmare”.
The flames have burned for a week on the island after the country was battered by successive heatwaves and strong winds that make it challenging to contain the blaze.
The island’s deputy mayor, Konstantinos Taraslias, said the fires are still out of control after seven days of fighting them.
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Today, locals and tourists are also being evacuated from large swaths of Corfu as more blazes rip through the country on Sunday.
People in the areas of Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palia, Perithia and Sinies on the island have been told to leave immediately.
It comes as Greece continues to face high temperatures – with forecasts of up to 45C this week as government agencies have warned people to stay indoors.
The country also experienced an “insidious and dangerous” heat blast earlier this month as temperatures soared to 40C.
The country has faced fires in the past but the hotter, drier and windy summers have brought more fires in recent years.
Fire Forest Protection Guidelines
Greece’s Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection has released guidlines for those that live in the countryside:
They warn that no one should burn rubbish or dry grass and branches in the peak summer months.
Nor should anyone be lighting outdoor barbecues in the woods or near dry grass right now.
They advise not to throw away any lit cigarettes or leave any litter in the forest due to the risk of ignition.
If you’re house is near a forest – they recommend creating a fire zone around the house by clearing dry grass, pine needles and branches in a radius for at least 32ft.
Call the Fire Service IMMEDIATELY (tel. 199) and give clear information about:
– the location and the exact point where you are,
– the location, the exact point and the direction of the fire.
– the type of vegetation being burned.
If the fire approaches your home: stay calm, move flammable materials, turn of natural gas and fuel supplies around home and put a ladder outside the house so that access to the roof is available.
Weather experts have declared 2023 an El Niño year – a natural phenomenon that occurs cyclically and causes fluctuations in the global climate.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said it will raise temperatures around the world, and the effect is likely to continue for the rest of the year.
And despite the heat this summer, Europe’s record temperature of 48.8C – recorded in 2021 in Sardinia, Sicily – has not been reached and is currently not forecast to be broken.
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