Greece has been hit with a blaze of forest fires whose impact are so severe, UK holidaymakers in the Mediterranean country are being urged to “remain indoors and switch off air conditioning” during thier trip. The stark warning could marr travellers' dream summer vacation should they be cooped up inside as authorities tackle the raging blazes. The warnings to remain indoors even extend as far as Athens - despite the initial blazes starting in the Psachna region. Yet the series of warnings over the weekend, and continuing into this week, have been issued by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and should be taken seriously.
Greek authorities so far have been forced to evacuate tourists from the island of Elafonisos as a powerful wildfire spread from a landfill site.
Strong winds then pushed it through the island as the terrifying scenes unfolded.
Greek authorities have issued a level 5 red alert for the island of Elafonisos in the Pelaponessus region of Greece.
Today, the FCO updated Travel advice for Britons and stated: “Information on wildfires that are ongoing in the Psachna area of the island of Evia (north of Athens) and in the Corianthiakos Bay area of Thiva (north-west of Athens) - is smoke from the fire on Evia is also affecting Athens.
“Local authorities have advised that anyone with breathing difficulties should remain indoors and switch off air-conditioning units.
Greece: Wildfires are ravaging the holiday
“If you’re in affected areas, follow the advice of the Greek authorities and monitor the website of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection for updates.”
It added the fires have also sparked travel issues on the roads, with issues of tourists and residents getting around.
The FCO stated: “The National road between Payras and Pyrgos has been closed.”
Elafonisos is a popular tourist destination in Greece and sees roughly 3,000 visitors during summer every year.
Some several thousand tourists left the island on Thursday, but evacuations continued on Saturday even after fire services said the blaze was “under control."
Express.co.uk reported how tourists had been evacuated from hotels and campsites in the height of the fire.
It was was eventually brought under control on Sunday night, as authorities released 121 firefighters, six aeroplanes and five helicopters to drive it back.
The Elafonisos blaze was one of several which broke out in Greece over the weekend.
According to the Fire Services, some 63 broke out from 7am on Saturday to 7pm on Sunday.
Today, it has been reported how a monastery was evacuated and the inhabitants of three villages were told to be ready to leave after a vast fire broke out in the centre of the Greek island of Evia in the early hours of yesterday.
According to local media reports, firefighters were alerted shortly after 3 am for a fire in the area of Agrilitsa, in the municipality of Dirfys-Messapia, and sent 80 firefighters with 39 vehicles, assisted by airplanes and helicopters.
Authorities have evacuated the monastery of Panagia Makrymallis and the villages of Agrilitsa and Kondodespoti are in pre-evacuation alert, while in Makrymalli, residents are already leaving, according to reports from SKAI TV.
Operations are hampered by rough terrain and strong winds that feed the flames that are ravaging a protected forest part of the EU's Natura 2000 network.
Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in regions of the densely-forested island east of Athens, after the blaze broke out on Tuesday, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.
Aircraft sprayed water early on Wednesday in a bid to douse the flames of a huge wildfire on the Greek island of Evia that had prompted the evacuation of villages and spurred an appeal from authorities for assistance from European partners.
Italy sent two aircraft after an appeal for airborne firefighting equipment from Greek authorities. Officials said the situation appeared better by morning after firefighters spent the night battling flames.
“The situation appears better, there was a huge effort [to contain the fire], superhuman efforts,” Kostas Bakoyannis, the regional governor for central Greece, told Skai TV.
Water dumping by specially-equipped aircraft started at first light. “It is a difficult fire, that’s the reality ... there is no danger to human life and that is what is important,” Bakoyannis said.
Fire officials said four villages and hundreds of people were evacuated as a precaution on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis interrupted his holiday on Crete to return to Athens where he was briefed on the situation.
Television images showed flames and plumes of black smoke on mountainsides carpeted in pine. Parts of Evia’s forests are a Natura 2000 site, which the European Union designates as a nature reserve.
Environmental campaigners see an increasing number of wildfires around the world as a symptom of climate change.
Around three million tourists visit Greece every year, with most holidays happening without incident.