Athens has not offered enough support over Evia wildfire, say locals

Exactly one year ago, on August 3, 2021, a massive fire caused the greatest environmental disaster in the history of Greece.

Evia, the second largest island in Greece and the sixth largest in the Mediterranean, went up in flames.

The fire lasted ten days.

Over 500,000 acres of forest and agricultural crops were burnt.

Beekeeper Nikos Dimitrakis is one of the locals who fought the fire. He managed to save his house but lost more than half of his bees. He had 80 cells, now only 37.

Although he is determined to rebuild his family’s life, the 35-year-old claims that the government did not keep its promises and help north Evia as much as it should have.

“Most beekeepers suffered significant damage. Most beehives were burned and many decided to leave the profession. This job makes no sense any more, the pines burned and the bees have no food. Yet, we will continue to fight. We won’t give up and we will do whatever work is needed. The government promised a lot, but so far we have seen nothing. Just words.”

Beyond the dense pine forest, the fire burned dozens of animals, houses, warehouses and farm machinery.

Dimitris Dimou is a livestock breeder and beekeeper. He managed to save his sheep and goats, but his corral burned down.

The animal feed and the warehouse, where he kept all his tools were also turned to ashes. He estimates that the damage exceeds Є80,000.

“Authorities say they will put us in a new, special restoration programme for professionals who have suffered damage. We are still waiting. It was supposed to start in February, but nothing happened. The government is good with promises and loves paperwork.

“They keep asking us for papers, credentials and stamps.”

Tourism has always been an important source of income for the region. But due to the scorched landscape, attracting visitors is proving a difficult task.

This summer, the government established the «Evia Pass». It is a voucher worth Є150, which is given to anyone who comes to spend a holiday in northern Evia.

Tourism professionals ask the government to continue the programme in the coming years, as well as to launch an international tourism initiative for the region.

“The fire was something shocking. We could never have imagined that we would experience something like this. Tourism has certainly been hit hard. Who will come to have a holiday in the burnt areas? So we need extra help from the state but also the support of ordinary greeks. They should come and spend their holidays with us.”