Harsh Greece Wildfires Are Harming The “Lungs of Athens”

Greece wildfires, lungs of Athens, wildfire.

At the same time that the Greek government was battling numerous wildfires that were spreading from north to south on the mainland, the fires that were encroaching on a beloved national park north of Athens on Thursday incited particular rage.

Often referred to as the “lungs” of Athens, Mount Parnitha is a protected wildlife area and a haven for city people. This is especially true now that the summer heat in Greece has reached dangerously high levels.

According to the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Vassilis Kikilias, 355 flames started between Friday and Tuesday. Firefighters were battling 99 fires on Wednesday, including 55 that had started within the previous 24 hours, according to fire department spokesperson Ioannis Artopios in an evening briefing.

However, neighbors and environmentalists alike lamented the potential loss of one of the few remaining green spots close to the city on Thursday, as the air was acrid with the smell of charred wood. A priceless forestland that is home to more than 1,000 different plant and animal species, including red deer and wolves, was allegedly not protected by the authorities.

The Lungs of Athens

Just 15 miles north of Greece’s capital, Athens, in the village of Agia Paraskevi, one of the settlements dotting Mount Panitha, we came upon a recognizable scene: a woman standing in front of a burned-out house with its black, skeletal roof beams extending imploringly into the blazing sky as if pleading for mercy.

This 300 square-mile national park is affectionately referred to as “the lungs of Athens” since it is home to lush forests and historic archeological monuments. The historic city’s large woodlands serve the dual purposes of cleansing the dirty air and absorbing the strong heat that frequently overtakes the metropolis, in addition to providing city people with a refuge from the sweltering summers.

Greece Wildfires

With so many frontlines, there are simply not enough firefighters in Greece to put out the similar fires that are raging around the country. The burnt corpses of 18 persons were discovered in a hut near the Dadia Forest in Alexandroupoli, Evros, this week, according to a report from the local fire department. The EU says the fires are the biggest it has ever seen.

Furthermore, it’s not just the destroyed homes and trees that are affected. The early repercussions are clear; you can see them in the dark water flowing beneath you as you shower and feel them in the parched air scraping at your throat and burning your eyes. The air is heavy with bitter smoke, making breathing difficult.

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