‘Utterly foreseeable’ – how Greece failed to prepare for this summer’s firestorm

For the families I spoke to on Evia who rely entirely on the pine trees for their salaries, it is going to take 50 years to rebuild the forests, writes Bel Trew

Sunday 12 September 2021 12:38
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<p>A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as a wildfire burns in the village of Vilia, near Athens </p>

A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as a wildfire burns in the village of Vilia, near Athens

You didn’t spend money on firefighting equipment, you should have sent the riot police to put out the villages.”

This was the missive scrawled on a wall in a hamlet on Evia island in Greece, an area that was ravaged by wildfires last month. Hundreds of extraordinary fires have ripped through the Mediterranean basin, which has been blasted by some of the highest temperatures ever recorded.

The graffiti sent a pertinent message to the Greek government: investment in public services needs to be shifted from policing to tackling key issues like the wildfire crisis. Across the smouldering villages, the same angry messages were repeated. Not enough had been done to prevent and then halt the fires when they first appeared, and so they were allowed to take hold, destroying tens of thousands of hectares of forest and with them, two generations of livelihoods.

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