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News of Kefalonia

 

2007  Summer Fires on Kefalonia

 

What Happened?

How they effected our environment, economy and life style. 

What must be done to prevent this tragedy 

Next Year!

Will it be done?

Help your ancestor's homeland remain beautiful !

Contact the Office of the Prefecture and request ACTION!!!

Office of the Prefecture of Kefallinia

ΝΟΜΑΡΧΙΑΚΗ  ΑΥΤΟΔΙΟΙΚΗΣΗ

Π. ΒΑΛΛΙΑΝΟΥ 

ΑΡΓΟΣΤΟΛΙ,  28100

ΚΕΦΑΛΛΙΝΙΑΣ,           ΕΛΛΑΣ    

OR       E-MAIL:

msolomoy@na-kefalinia.gr

Letters and messages in all languages will be read.

 

     The summer of 2007 will definitely go down in Greek history as one of the worst for wild fires.  The statement made by many people is that  Half of Greece burned in the Summer of 2007.  Actually, 2% of the forest land of Greece was destroyed, in one summer.

        The areas most effected by the fires, in order by greatest destruction, were the Peloponnese and Evia.  However, since Kefalonian Roots is dedicated to the island of Kefalonia, this article will discuss the fires on the island, especially those in the municipality of Eliou-Pronnou, which was most severely effected.

Fires burned areas of Kefalonia throughout the summer, destroying forests; grazing land; farms, crops - vineyards, vegetables, fruits and olive trees; animals - sheep, goats and chickens; farmers' storage buildings and homes.  They broke out all over the island, but most ferociously in Eliou-Pronnou, on the southeastern peninsula.  The villages effected by the fires, in order from south to north, were Markopoulo; Kremmidi and on toward Katelios, Razakli and Skala; Pastra; St. George; Kapandriti; Asprogerakas and Annitata.  See Political Map, municipality 4. Photo Album   - 1-2.

The residents of the area state that during the week of July 23rd, fires were breaking out continuously; but on the 25th of July, the "big fire" broke out in St George.  The temperature on that Wednesday was 39-40 C ~ 101-102 F, and the winds were very high.  Most of the areas engulfed in the flames were hills and mountains, with the flames moving in all directions as the winds changed frequently, causing updrafts and downdrafts.   Photo Album   - 3-4

Driving through the area after the fire, one can sense the fear and horror, which must have griped of the residents. Rounding each curve in the road, one sees, on the left and right, trees and bushes standing as sculptures of charcoal; huge burnt areas of hillsides running right to the houses of the villages and some houses splotched with black soot from the fire.  Standing on the road in the village and looking up the hillside, one can feel a rush of adrenalin just from the thought of seeing the fire's huge tongues lashing out down the hillside toward a home - the place where a family's very life had its center - shelter, clothing, food, comfort, loved ones, memories - a base for existence.   Being there, and seeing the destruction, one wonders how so many of the houses were left untouched!  Then one realizes that it was because everyone fought the fire with all his strength, to save his home and farm.   Photo Album   - 5-11

It is not as though each village has its own fire department.  During the summer months, there are fire trucks parked on the roads of Kefalonia, but at great distances from each other.  If a fire breaks out, the truck closest to the area rushes to begin the fight; but if it is a huge fire, trucks must come from Argostoli and other regions of the island, which could be from to 16-36 kilometers and more. 

 In isolated areas in the mountains, where there are few, if any roads, the residents must wait for fire planes to arrive.  Kefalonia has two fire planes of its own, however, on the 25 of July, there was also a fire raging in Aigio, in the Peloponnese, and the planes of Kefalonia were called to fight the fire there.   During the fire in Kefalonia, which lasted about  2 1/2 days, there was also an earthquake, not a strong one, but one strong enough to frighten people, especially those who were already threatened by wild fires.  Finally, on Thursday afternoon, the fire planes arrived, and they gave great assistance in fighting the fire.   Photo Album   - 12-14

  Although, in some areas of Greece there were reports that the fire equipment was unusable, that fire hoses had many holes;   the residents of  Kefalonia said that they did not hear of this problem, and that the firemen worked very hard and that their equipment, although not the most up to date, did work efficiently.

Due to the fire, the residents were without electricity, water - which is  distributed by electrical pumps, and telephone service for three days.  In cases of wild fires, the electricity is turned off as a  precaution.

The residents of course want to know how such a fire, and how so many smaller fires over a large area could have started in such a short period of time.  They understand that, with high temperatures and high winds, pieces of burning trees can be carried over a distance, but some fires started with in a very short period of time and at a good distance from each other.  The residents heard every reason imaginable for the cause of the fires, but never heard the precise  reason. One resident said, the only reason that was not given, was that an extraterrestrial came and lit it.

Residents stated that the people who lost crops and livestock have been given financial assistance from the government. But that other assistance, which was pledged, has not arrived. 

The most interesting phenomenon which can be seen in this area of Elliou-Pronnou is that of oases of greenery - oases of plants, some very tiny and others quite large.  Amongst the burnt and charred trees and scrubs, one sees very tiny plants and along the hill sides large areas of trees and a variety of plants.  It can be seen that Mother Nature does not allow for Total Destruction.  These plants will  grow and slowly the area will become full of life again.  However, for humans who are over 40, who have grown up on  lusciously green  Kefalonia,  the re-growth will not be fast enough.   Photo Album   - 15-18

Kefalonia is very rocky, and therefore huge mudslides are not likely to happen in the areas effected by the fires.  However, with the loss of trees, scrubs and other forms of vegetation, of which  their roots  hold the soil and the rocks in place, there is a possibility of land slides and rock slides  in times of bad storms and earthquakes. Kefalonia is in an active earthquake region.  Although there are not very strong earthquakes occurring at small intervals of time, there is a constant movement of the plates, causing small earthquakes to occur continuously.   These quakes are so small that the residents don't sense most of them, but their effect on the soil and rocks is continuous.  Little by little they shake soil lose and away from the rocks or cause a split to slowly deepen or widen in rocks and boulders. This continuous action weakens the soil and rocks, and makes it possible for landslides and  rockslides during stronger earthquakes, and bad storms.  For this  reason alone, Kefalonians must work together to organize ways of preventing fires, and extinguishing them quickly when they do occur.   Photo Album   - 19

 Unfortunately, in Greece some fires are started on purpose; some by people who want land for grazing their animals and others who want forest land for development.  However, fires are also started by the high temperatures; absolutely cloudless skies that allow the sun's rays to heat  natural and man made debris in the forests to very high temperatures; and by  people carelessly burning  trash or throwing a cigarette butt out of the car window and on the ground.  If everyone were more responsible for their actions, there would definitely be fewer fires. 

Another factor, which leads to the spread of wild fires, is that there is no developed forest surveillance and communication system.  Greece is in a high risk area for fires due to the climate and type of plant life.  Because of  these natural factors, the inhabitants must work to organize a system for surveillance, communication and fire prevention.  The importance of personal responsibility for one's actions must be stressed more in the schools from grade 1 thru 12,  more posters must be displayed and much more information circulated in the communities throughout the year.  A national fire prevention program must be developed, organized, put into effect, maintained and enforced!

Kefalonian Roots would like to stress the ideas that fire destroys the beauty, the economy and the life of Kefalonia and that to maintain our environment, economy and life style, we must be alert to the problems at hand, and have the will, the determination and the keffy to organize systems to prevent fires in the future.  We have seven (7) months to think, organize, mobilize and work, - everyone together - to prevent such damage from occurring again in the Fire Season of 2008!!!!!! 

We want the fire season of 2008 to pass without loss of life to plants, animals or humans, and without destruction to the environment or communities.

If any of our readers have  ideas on how to organize community fire prevention programs for schools - grades 1-12,  and for public organizations and adult groups, please send your ideas to:

fireprevention@keffyroots.com

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Kefalonian Roots wishes to thank the residents of Eliou-Pronou for their assistance in making this article possible.  A special thank you goes to Aliki Kousoubri and Anna Maria Seriatou.

 

 

Photo  Album

 

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17 18 19 We must work to prevent this from happening again!

 

   

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