Australia Sends 28 Firefighting Aircraft to Greece for the Fire Season

Australia Greece fire season
Fire-fighting aircraft arrived from Australia to Greece last week. Credit: Alison Duncan/X

Australia has sent to Greece 28 firefighting aircraft and over 200 crew and support staff to help Greece tackle the fire season that begins in earnest.

These resources, provided by Pays Air Services and McDermott Aviation, will be strategically stationed across Greece throughout the fire season.

Key areas include Athens, Rhodes, Kalamata, Volos, Tripoli, Ioannina, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, and Crete, ensuring comprehensive coverage and rapid response capabilities.

Greece Australia fire season
Credit: Alison Duncan/X

Australia is uniquely placed to help and has been doing so for the last few years.

There is limited demand for Australia’s advanced firefighting resources during the Southern Hemisphere winter. This means Australian firefighting equipment – plus pilots and maintenance crew – are available to help during Northern Hemisphere summers.

Also, Australian firefighters have an ideal experience. They regularly work closely with government agencies.

This is the fifth fire season that McDermott Aviation has sent helicopters to support Greece throughout the summer.

Australia help as experts warn of difficult fire season in Greece

Greece experienced 3,543 wildfires between January 1st and May 1st. This is an increase of 22 percent compared to last year’s 2,907 blazes, according to the Fire Service, which is bracing for a very difficult season.

What is causing particular alarm is that “some of these fires displayed characteristics similar to blazes we would expect during the summer,” Theodore Giannaros, an expert at the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

“We are also very alarmed by the fact that we had a blaze at a very high altitude in the Pierian Mountains, which should have been covered by snow that would have prevented such a fire from starting,” he added.

The head of research at the NOA, Kostas Lagouvardos, added that low rainfall over the past few months is also compounding fears with the European Drought Observatory having already issued a warning for Greece.

Last winter was the warmest since modern records began being kept in 1960, according to the National Observatory of Athens, which analyzed European Union satellite data. The six warmest Greek winters on record have occurred in the past decade.

That’s against the backdrop of new data revealing that Europe is the world’s fastest-warming continent, its temperatures rising at roughly twice the global average.

Vassilis Kikilias, the minister for climate crisis and civil protection, says authorities expect annual conditions to worsen further. “It will be a very difficult fire season, a very difficult summer,” says Kikilias.

“We had a dry winter and fall temperatures lasting until December. So we’re facing the climate crisis head-on,” he told the Associated Press recently.

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