With forests parched from weeks of scorching heat waves, the authorities in Greece had feared that this summer’s conditions had created more opportunities to spark catastrophic wildfires.
Those fears came true on Wednesday, with officials calling a raft of summer wildfires “the worst” since record-keeping began. Firefighters on Wednesday struggled to quench hundreds of new blazes that have broken out in recent days, the most dangerous of them in the country’s north and on the outskirts of Athens.
Fierce fires earlier in the season had already ravaged acres of land on several Greek islands, causing tourists to flee during the height of the travel season. The fresh fires this week razed even more of the country, resulting in apocalyptic scenes of burning homes and cars as residents in threatened settlements were evacuated and locals used buckets of water to defend their villages. Greek firefighters recovered the bodies of 18 people on Tuesday, among them two small children, in a forest in the northern Evros region.
Firefighters are intensifying their response to the fires by air and land. But complicating the efforts are gale-force winds, which are also fueling the fires.
Here are photos from the wildfires this week.
Residents evacuated as a wildfire spread in Acharnes, a city in the Attica region of Greece.
A firefighting helicopter flying over a residential area at the foot of Mount Parnitha on the outskirts of Athens.
A man cried as he hurried away from the Agia Paraskevi Christian Orthodox monastery in Acharnes with an icon in hand.
People tossed water on the roof of the monastery to try to control the fire.
Burned trees around the village of Kirkis, near Alexandroupolis.
A fire burned on a hill behind the Parthenon.
Smoke lingered over abandoned lounge chairs and umbrellas at a beach in the village of Dikella, near Alexandroupolis.
Volunteers rescued a sheep from a burning farm in the village of Chasia, near Athens.
Hospital workers evacuated patients as a wildfire burned near Alexandroupolis.
The patients from an Alexandroupolis hospital were moved to a ferry.
A burning olive tree in Alexandroupolis.
A charred car in the village of Palagia, near Alexandroupolis.
Beehives burning in Fyli, a town in the Attica region of Greece.
A farmer and his horse fled flames in Fyli.
Firefighters and volunteers trying to tackle a wildfire in Chasia.
Volunteers helping to move a man during a wildfire in the village of Avantas, near Alexandroupolis.
A wildfire burning a home in Avantas.
Firefighters battling flames near the village of Prodromos, northeast of Athens.
Residents surveyed the wildfire from a road in Avantas.
A man watched the wildfires approach in Avantas.