Aug 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment

In photos: First the record heat came to Greece, then the deadly wildfires

Picture of human silhouette in front of a fire
Forest fire flames can be seen in a northeastern suburb of Athens, Greece, on Aug. 3. Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Over 500 firefighters have been leading efforts to control wildfires near Athens, with Greece’s fire service saying on Wednesday that it hopes to bring the flames under control "in the coming hours," AFP reports.

The big picture: More than 75 wildfires broke out in Greece on Tuesday and Wednesday as the country faces its most intense heat wave in decades — temperatures in Athens have reached 43°C (109.4°F), according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian.

  • This was a record high for any time of the year, Kapikian reported via Twitter. All-time and monthly records were set elsewhere across Greece and in Turkey, where fires are also raging amid searing, prolonged heat.
  • Some locations also set records for the highest overnight temperatures seen for the entire European continent, though Europe's all-time high-temperature record of 48°C (118.4°F) remains intact.
  • Thousands of people across Greece have been forced to evacuate due to the raging wildfires, while some in Athens are being advised to stay indoors.
  • The extreme heat prompted the Ministry of Culture to close the Acropolis and other ancient sites during the afternoons this week, CNN reports.

Context: The heat wave can be traced to persistent winds from the southwest, transporting air from Africa across the mild waters of the Mediterranean, along with a high-pressure area, or "heat dome," sitting over southeastern Europe.

In photos:
Picture of a firefighter in front of a fire
A firefighter battles against a wildfire in Acharnes, Greece, on Aug. 3. Photo: Marios Lolos/Xinhua via Getty Images
Picture of a burnt house and forest
A burned-out home after a forest fire in the Varibobi area of northern Athens. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/Picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of a house with a fire in the roof and a firefighter with a hose
Firefighters try to extinguish the flames in a burning house in the Varibobi district of northern Athens. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/Picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of a helicopter extinguishing a fire
A helicopter drops water over a forest fire in the Varibobi area of northern Athens. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/Picture alliance via Getty Images
Picture of a forest fire
Firefighters battle against a wildfire in Varibobi, Greece, on Aug. 3. Photo: Marios Lolos/Xinhua via Getty Images
Picture of a firefighter fighting a fire, he's surrounded by smoke.
A firefighter battles against a wildfire in Varibobi, Greece, on Aug. 3. Photo: Marios Lolos/Xinhua via Getty Images
Picture of a firefighter hosing a fire
A major forest fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon in the foothills of Mount Parnitha, about 10 miles northeast of Athens. Photo: Marios Lolos/Xinhua via Getty Images
Picture of a fire in a forest
Forest burns in the area of Dekeleia near Athens on Aug. 3 Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images
Photo of firefighter walking towards a fire
A fireman attempts to extinguish a fire in the yard of a house in the northern suburbs of Athens on Aug. 3. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Picture of a road with a fire in the background
A highway road is closed because of a wildfire in the area of Tatoi on Aug. 3. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Picture of two firefighters in front of a fire
Firefighters work on a wildfire, in Labiri, near Patras, on July 31. Photo: STR/Eurokinissi/AFP via Getty Images
Picture of a plane in front of a smoke cloud
A firefighter water-dropping helicopter flies over Labiri, near Patras, on July 31. Photo: STR/Eurokinissi/AFP via Getty Images
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