Southern Europe is enduring one of the most severe heatwaves of the past decades. A country hit particularly hard by the increasing temperatures is Greece, where fires have broken out across the country.
Pictures of people desperately fleeing from the flames, air thick with smoke, mass evacuations, popular tourist islands like Rhodes and Corfu ravaged by fire – these might look like scenes from an apocalypse movie, but the emergency we are facing is very real.
Due to rising temperatures associated with climate change, such chaotic wildfires have become an unwelcome fixture of European summers. While we cannot stop them from happening, we can be prepared.
In early July, the EU deployed pre-positioned firefighters and technical equipment from other Member States to Greece. As soon as the fires broke out later in the month, the stand-by firefighters from Bulgaria, Malta, and Romania started battling the flames side by side with their Greek colleagues.
However, the fires were too fierce, too stubborn, and too widespread to get under control with these resources alone. So, on 18 July, Greece activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to request further assistance from other countries. And Europe responded.
- 7 water-bomber airplanes together with more than 50 aerial firefighters were deployed to Greece from the rescEU and EU Civil Protection Pool fleets positioned in Italy, France, Croatia, and Cyprus.
- 360 firefighters and 108 vehicles were deployed from Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia.
This is in addition to 80 firefighters from Bulgaria, Malta, and Romania who were already pre-positioned in the country via the Mechanism.
While Greece furiously battles the blazes brutally ravaging their country, the European civil protection family has stepped up in solidarity, showing that Greece is not alone in its war against fire.
We owe the greatest gratitude to the brave firefighters, those on the very frontline of this fight. They are protecting our precious ecosystems, our rich biodiversity, and our homes. And most importantly, they are putting their own lives at risk to protect ours.