This weekend the island unfortunately witnessed another four fires at the north of the island. The fires threatened the areas of Anafonitria and Maries. Roads had to be closed, and the Fire Service were quick to respond. Unfortunately strong winds just didn’t help them, and it took all the effort the fire fighters had, along wth help from villagers, to stop the evacuated village of Anafonitria from being engulfed.
Sadly a home in Anafonitria was destroyed and a taverna badly damaged. The area is also full of pine forests, olive groves and vines and all of them have been completely destroyed, leaving the ground barren and burnt. Today the heroic firefighters of Zakynthos are still bravely fighting a fire in the north, and colleagues from other areas in Greece joined them overnight to assist. Late this afternoon two people were spotted on the ground by helicopters as they were trying to extinguish the fire. These people are suspected arsonists who are now being urgently hunted by authorities.
The fire got perilously close to Maries and the Monastery of St George Krimnon, luckily the firefighters have managed to save both. Smoke from the fires was thick in the air and could not only be seen across the island, but also on the neighbouring island of Kefalonia and even from the famous shipwreck beach below.
In total there have been 76 wildfires on the island this summer. Whilst wildfires are not unusual on Zakynthos, this year the number reported is a little higher than normal. Many rumours exist as to why, including arson, but until investigations have been conclude, no one will know for sure. Despite the ‘bigger than average’ number of fires on the island this year, a majority of them have been confined to the mountains, in areas where there was little or no risk to homes, business or human life. Sadly on two occasions however, including this weekend, some property has suffered damage, but tourist resorts have not been at risk, and neither has Zakynthos Town.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to the incredible fire service that Zakynthos is lucky to have. They respond very quickly and do all they can to help protect the island if/when needed. Our thoughts are now with those on the island who have been affected by the fires, especially this weekend, and we hope that things will begin to return to normal once this latest set of fires have been extinguished.
Zakynthos is a wonderful island, yes, it has been through a tough time this summer, but it will eventually bounce back. The people that live there will continue to live their lives, and after a bit of time green shoots will appear through the burnt ground, the vegetation, trees and Olive Groves will return, the wildlife will flourish and the island will become beautiful once again.
AUTHOR NOTE: As this article went to press we learned that the fires have flared up again and that a number of areas in the north are suffering once more, including the outskirts of Maries, Porto Vromi and the fire is reported to be heading in the direction of Exo Hora. Please keep the brave firefighters of Zakynthos and those form other areas of Greece who are helping, in your thoughts tonight.
Article written by Chrissie Parker, Zakynthos Informer Admin.
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