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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Thursday, 30 August 2007

Every year, Greece and several other southern European countries experience wild forest fires, some are started deliberately, others accidentally.  Either way they all prove challenging during the hot dry summer months in these Countries.

Whilst experiencing the usual set of fires in recent months, many went unreported, a very dry and hot summer season - where temperatures remained over 40oC continuously (hitting 46oC and 47oC at times), for several days if not weeks on end.  This meant the whole country was tinder-dry, and combine this with the August holiday month, meant it was inevitable that something tragic was going to happen one day - and it certainly did for Greece this year (with dire consequences)!!

This year, I felt the true effects of these wild fires, as I've stayed in the areas recently affected. You may recall I stayed on the island of Skiathos, part of the Sporades islands, in May 2007. Only the find that in July 2007, raging fires engulfed part of the island.

This year the media reports started to embrace these environmental disasters even more than usual, concentrating at the beginning of August on Croatia, and the infamous city of Dubrovnik.

Things then went wild in the media (no pun intended), with the reports focusing on what was happening in Greece. There were forest reports in various areas of the Country, several in the northern suburbs of Athens, but it was the mainland area of Peloponnese that was worst affected.

The fires raged on from 22nd August through to 29th August - with many smaller fires occurring during the earlier weeks of August, and some continuing until now.  They were very tragic - with 64 people dying, as they tried to escape the fires! 

From speaking with the friends and work colleagues located in Athens, the Greeks were classing this as being "under attack" and "at war" with the elements.  They were scared, worried and angry at what has happened.

I was more concerned about some close friends, who's relatives were based on the Messina area of the Peloponnese area - in fact the very area where I stayed over the during one of the weekend breaks in the first weekend of August.

Luckily after several days if not weeks of experiencing these wild fires, the fires were eventually brought under control - with the great assistance from the other European countries. This brings out the best of the European Union - at times of urgent need and help! Good on us! The death-toll appears to stay at 64 and not increase further - it's now the aftermath and clean-up that now needs to progress. Homes, businesses, lives and lifelihoods are all affected - both with economical and envrionmental effects! What a shame. My wishes are with those affected by this disaster!


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