A blaze has spread on the island of Chios. In the last three days, 120 fire-fighters, 50 fire engines, 110 people from the land forces, 50 volunteers and 79 military have been fighting it. Seven CL-415 aircraft, two CL-215 aircraft, two CH-47 helicopters have been put into operation as well as one C-130 to transport 54 specially trained military from Athens to the island. Greek media are reporting of an environmental disaster and according to published data, more than 70,000 acres of woodland and farmland have been destroyed so far.
Currently, the most serious is the situation on the island areas of Pirgi, Olympus Panagias Sikelias. Fire-fighters, military and volunteers were fighting all night to prevent the flames from spreading to the houses in the settlements. "This is the biggest disaster for us after the massacre and the earthquake in 1881," Mayor of Chios Polydoros Labrinoudis said, quoted by Nea. The greatest difficulty in getting the fire under control is due to the strong winds that reach eight knots, change their direction constantly and prevent the fire services from limiting the natural blaze. The main thing now is to prevent the fire from spreading. Currently, the southern and central areas of the island are burning and fire-fighters are trying to stop the fire before reaching the northern part of Chios. According to the mayor, who spoke to Mega TV, the fight with the firestorm will be lost and the damage will be irreversible if the flames spread to the northern part of the island.
In addition to its Mediterranean beauty and clear waters, Chios is known as the land of the mastic tree. A special resin (mastic) used in confectionery and medicine is derived from it. Its production is a typical means of living on Chios and its production is extremely important for the local population. GRReporter contacted the president of the Union of Manufacturers of Mastic Evtimis Moniaros. He said the fire was catastrophic for the entire population, not just for the mastic tree. "The most important thing now is to extinguish the natural blaze. Now, the fire is raging on that side of the island where the mastic plants are. Chios is famous for the production of the resin, but mastic trees do not grow on the entire island, but only on one of its sides. Currently, fire-fighters are trying to extinguish the fire precisely in those areas."
The manufacturer said that volunteers from the island along with fire-fighters were doing everything possible to stop the flames. The smoke from the burning acres is covering the entire island but there is no evidence of people hospitalized with respiratory problems. Athens News Agency reported that the smoke from the fire in Chios has reached Chania on Crete. Moniaros said it was too early to make any estimates of the damages, but assessed that the fire may have affected up to 53% of the production of mastic resin compared to last year production.
The first priority of the people on the island remains the extinguishing of the fire, but the president of the Union of Manufacturers of Mastic said that the recovery of burned trees would be difficult. According to him, it takes 10 years for a mastic tree to become suitable for extracting the special resin.
Meanwhile, the National Fire Service does not cease posting on its Twitter profile information about new fires. Social networks have replaced the usual messages and the fastest way to find out in what direction fire-fighters have headed is through the internet account. The last-minute reports are about a fire near Solomos in Corinth. Sixteen fire-fighters with eight fire engines and two specialized aircraft have been sent there. Corinth has always been one of the neuralgic points in the summer and the quick extinguishing of the blaze in this area is crucial. Twenty fire-fighters, nine cars and two fire fighting planes are helping the population of Dariza in south-eastern Peloponnese.