Athens fires among the deadliest in Europe this century

July 24, 2018
The wildfires raging near Athens, which have claimed at least 50 lives, are among the deadliest in Europe this century

The wildfires raging near Athens, which have claimed at least 50 lives, are among the deadliest in Europe this century, with Portugal and Russia also suffering heavy losses.

Here is a recap of the worst.

Portugal in 2017

Sixty-four people were killed and 250 injured in the deadliest wildfires in Portugal's history in June 2017.

The fires burned for five days in the central Leiria region, breaking out at the height of a summer heatwave. Many of the victims died trapped in their cars by the flames while trying to escape.

Violent winds fanned the fires, ravaging some 460 square kilometres (around 180 square miles) of hillsides covered with pine and eucalyptus.

In 2003 gigantic fires caused by a heatwave left 20 dead between July and September in central and southern Portugal.

The summer of 2003 remains the most disastrous in terms of surface destroyed, with nearly 4,250 square kilometres going up in smoke.

In 1966 a blaze in the forest of Sintra, west of Lisbon, killed 25 soldiers trying to battle the flames.

Russia in 2015, 2010

In April 2015 huge fires that started in the Khakassia region of southeastern Siberia killed 34 people as well as hundreds of cattle and thousands of sheep.

The blaze, which spread as far as Mongolia and practically up to the Chinese border, also destroyed 2,000 homes and 10,000 square kilometres of land.

Five years earlier, vast swathes of western Russia were ravaged by fires for weeks during an unprecedented heatwave and drought.

The blazes between July and August 2010 tore through 10,000 square kilometres of forest, bogs and brushwood, burning entire villages.

Some of the fires came dangerously close to Russia's top nuclear research centre in Sarov.

Greece in 2007

Forest fires killed 77 people at the end of August 2007 in Greece, ravaging 2,500 square kilometres in the southern Peloponnese and the island of Evia, northeast of Athens.

The fires raged for around 12 days, but most of the victims were killed early on in the disaster when they became trapped in villages cut off by the flames, some ignoring orders to evacuate.

France, worst ever in 1949

In the heaviest loss of life in wildfires in France, 82 people were killed battling flames in the southwest Landes region in August 1949.

The victims—firemen, volunteers and soldiers—were caught in a ball of fire after the winds suddenly changed direction.

Explore further: New life for Portugal's oldest forest ravaged by fires

Related Stories

Raging Portugal forest fires kill dozens

June 19, 2017

Raging forest fires in central Portugal have killed at least 62 people, many burnt to death in their cars, the government said Sunday, in the country's worst such disaster in recent history.

Portugal arsonists feed wildfire destruction

August 16, 2017

Portugal's police said Wednesday they had arrested 61 suspected arsonists so far this year, with fires on the rise and figures showing the largest number of people killed in forest blazes since 2003.

Wildfires spark evacuations in northern California

July 2, 2018

Californian authorities have issued red flag weather warnings and mandatory evacuation orders after a series of wildfires fanned by high winds and hot temperatures ripped through thousands of acres.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.