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Forest fires continue in Greece.  This is the story of a family who had to flee

Forest fires continue in Greece. This is the story of a family who had to flee

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last Tuesday For a week, the Servetas sat and ate breakfast around the kitchen table.

Surrounded by the lush Parnitha National Park, they are a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, referred to as the lungs of Athens.

On the table was bread, homemade jam, fruit, tea and juice.

Then they feel something familiar and frightening, the sour smell of smoke.

They go out into the garden and see a fire burning in the mountainside. A thick layer of smoke headed straight for them.

Meanwhile, firefighting planes are heading for the valley.

– Everything happened very quickly, says the 55-year-old father of the family, Giannis.

They don’t have enough time to react, nor to save any of their things.

Giannis wants to stay, but the cops come and order the family to leave.

“Come on! Come on!” shouted the officers.

Meanwhile, house after house around Athens began to be consumed by fire:

Servetas family He has two dogs and a cat. The dogs run away. The cat also gets scared and hides out of sight.

Visibility is now only a few metres. It is covered in orange smoke.

– My daughter cried and cried: “Get the cat, dad! Get the cat!”

But they can’t do that.

They threw themselves into the car and ran out of the house.

Breakfast is left on the table.

the the last two weeks Violent forest fires ravaged Greece.

And in the north-east of the country, vast areas were burned. The European Union refers to the fires as the largest ever in the history of the European Union.

On Monday, more firefighters and fire trucks were deployed from neighboring countries. The fires are still burning.

At least 20 people lost their lives, hospitals had to evacuate patients, villages were burned and the capital, Athens, was filled with smoke.

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The smoke from several hundred wildfires was so massive that it was observed from space:

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has no doubt that wildfires are linked to climate change.

– We must always be on our guard. We are at war. The climate crisis is already here and will continue to be felt across the Mediterranean region. He said earlier this summer that the crises would only get worse.

He continued last week: Greece must take action to combat the effects of climate change. He declared that repairs must be implemented to ensure better handling of fires.

– These are traces of a reality we already know, says the Prime Minister.

– It will have dire consequences for our economic and social life.

Forest fires It is a well known phenomenon in Greece. But this year’s fires have already devoured areas three times larger than normal.

Climate change is not the only culprit:

In all, Greek police have arrested 79 people on suspicion that they may be behind some of the fires.

in the stricken Garden Gianni’s hands are full of soot. Avocado trees, olives and pomegranates are charred.

– Before this it was paradise. Now I am speechless.

The 55-year-old burst into tears. The colleague hugs him. They are both bus drivers.

VG meets the family on the day they return.

Now they can see with their own eyes: how a forest fire ignited a fir tree in the garden, and spread to the living room And they destroyed most of what they were fond of.

– We have to collect our things, our minds and our memories. “We have to try to get past that,” Giannis says.

Constantina’s wife (44) Leaning on the kitchen table.

The breakfast they left was charred. Ashes fell on the walls and windows were shattered in the heat.

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– I can’t believe something like this could happen to us. I am just happy that my children and husband are safe. I don’t believe in luck, but in God’s help.

A religious icon floats from the living room wall. He brings him to his chest and puts him back in his place:

Now they are trying to save what can be saved.

Most of the home furniture is handmade, solid fir wood furniture.

In the living room is a box that Giannis, the father of the family, spent two months making. Now charred.

The one thing they bring home is hope. That everything went well. Was destroyed as little as possible.

How was the animals?

Deep religious The family is convinced that climate change is not the root cause of the wildfires, but rather the reason they start them.

We don’t believe in climate change. Giannis says: We think these are just coincidences.

Skepticism about human-induced climate change is as great in Greece as it is in Norway.

But the world’s scientists and the United Nations clearly recognize that human-induced climate change is real, and that it will threaten our existence with even greater force in the years to come.

Especially since the world continues to pump and burn fossil energy such as oil and gas.

The science is pretty clear that deadly heat waves, floods, droughts, unpredictable weather regimes, and wildfires will only increase in intensity in the future. Unless the world’s leaders and citizens take drastic action.

– the changes we see In climate, it creates warmer and drier conditions, he says Keke Kelvin, director of the Bjarkenes Center for Climate Research:

Many wildfires are started naturally by lightning, but many are also caused by human activity: shards of glass in nature or by someone starting a fire.

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The risks of continuing and expanding fires are the result of man-made climate change.

– The moisture content in the soil decreases, and is almost non-existent, as the wind blows, says Kiki.

The combination of hot, dry and windy weather creates fiery weather. This type of season has become much longer due to global warming.

High temperatures due to natural weather phenomenon El NinoEl NinoEl Niño is a condition of unusually high surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator. El Niño affects the weather in most parts of the Earth, and affects the global average temperature. Source: snl.no It also contributes to an increase in risk this year.

in his ruins After her home burned down, the Servetas finally found cats and dogs.

They were all alive.

One of the dogs had burns on his ear, but he was alert otherwise.

Kaffe the cat managed too. But her paws were burned.

Now she lies quietly in the corner, staring out.

He has severe weather He left a deep mark in the family.

– Now we just have to roll up our sleeves, says patriarch Giannis.

Earlier this summer, fires raged out of control on the islands of Rhodes, Corfu and Evia, as well as near Volos in central Greece.

In July, 20,000 people, mostly tourists, had to flee from the fires on the island of Rhodes.

There has also been extreme weather in other European countries this summer.

Now the family will try to save their property and try to repair the apartment. They also hope to get some compensation from the Greek state.

His wife, Constantina, is determined to get back together.

– This is our home, you say.

Journalist and translator Jenny Tsiropoulou on the ground contributed to this report.


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