It is an ecological disaster. With the fires now being damped down and extinguished, Greeks are measuring the extent of the damage.
Athens has seen its future through the clouds of smoke, and it will be a barren one for years say the experts, with worse air quality and higher temperatures for the capital’s four and a half million people. The equivalent of 20 000 football fields of forest has been lost from around a city that already has few green spaces, and anger is mounting that developers may be to blame. “Burn to build” has been used for years to declassify forest for residential development, often on the coast. Some areas have been burnt-out for the fourth time in 15. Desertification becomes a possibility under this sort of stress. There is also anger that despite the loss of 77 lives and a quarter-million football fields two summers ago in southern Greece, promises to reform the system have not been followed up. For example, authorities have not joined some new buildings to infrastructures – the result? No water for the firefighters if they arrive.