Thursday, August 24, 2006

forest fires in Greece

I'm reading more and more about what happened in Κassandra, Halkidiki in the Greek and foreign press. The strange thing was that I was just 20km away from where all this was happening and had no idea about how serious it was. Of course, we heard about what was happening on the radio but it didn't seem that urgent. It was only when I saw the news footage on TV last night that I got a sense of the scale of the disaster. The problem is that the TV stations treat even minor events as if they were the end of life on earth, and so you tend to ignore much of what they say as ratings-induced hysteria. For once they turned out to be telling the truth.

Still, forest fires are extremely scary as I saw for myself in 1996 when I volunteered to help fight the fire in Seix Sou (the woods that surrounded the northern part of Thessaloniki). The thing you don't really appreciate is how quickly this mass of flames can move. I remember being almost cut off by the fire as it had changed direction so quickly that we had literally seconds to get out of the place. It was only be running like crazy with the others that we avoided getting into real trouble.

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