The Athens fire has brought back memories in Greece of two summers ago, when a 10-day inferno killed 65 people. This time, so far, no-one is known to have died despite the ferocity of the flames.
One resident of a village 20 kilometers from Athens described how fast the flames approached: “By the time we realised what was happening, got in the car and left, the fire had surrounded us. It came from all sides and this is all that’s left.” Many people are angry and claim the lessons of 2007 have not been learnt. Some believe the authorities were slow to react. “No-one showed up. No-one, it’s shameful. We managed to save our house but they couldn’t save the houses next to ours,” said one resident of the Pendeli district of the capital. Another man in Drafi said: “The fire crossed the street and was coming towards us and we haven’t seen one fire engine. We have had no help at all. I’m just left wondering what kind of country we live in.” As the wildfire creeps towards the centre of Greece’s most populous city, and the risk of casualties rises, the authorities’ reaction will be closely scrutinised.