Emergency crews were for a second day on Friday battling to contain a wildfire raging in the Dadia National Park, the country’s largest Natura 2000 site and home to the only blackbird colony in the Balkans, in the northeastern border region of Evros.
Steep and rugged terrain combined with variable winds hampered the efforts of more than 320 firefighters in 68 fire trucks, who were assisted by 10 water-dumping aircraft and nine helicopters.
By Friday evening, the fire had consumed more than 800 hectares of dense pine forest in a unique ecosystem with a rich fauna.
Fire Service spokesman, Giannis Artopios, said during an emergency briefing on Friday that the front of the blaze is moving west. He said “conditions are unfavorable” due to the large amount of fuel, sharp wind changes, difficulty of access (steep topography, poor road network) and prolonged drought.
“Great efforts are being made in order to save one of the most ecologically sensitive national parks of the Mediterranean,” he told journalists.
A large force of 320 firefighters with 68 vehicles, 13 teams on foot 10 water-bombers and nine helicopters are battling the fire, along with volunteer firefighters, volunteer Civil Protection groups, and several soldiers.
“We have flare-ups and the fire is heading towards Lefkimmi. It is an area with very dense vegetation, both the one that is burning and the one to which the fire is directed,” local mayor Panagiotis Kalakikos told kathimerini.gr.
“The fire is spreading very quickly and hundreds of Natura [hectares] are already burning. We are 24 hours later and unfortunately it is getting worse instead of being contained.”