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Fire on Hydra!

The fires are out, but the debate continues…

SHAME …

Fire approaching Kamini

It was our plan to present things in humorous light, articles that would show the lighter side of life on our little Rock. But there is nothing funny about this: in fact, even any humor in the initial rhubarb in which conspiracy theorists claimed that one of the contestants in the ongoing mayoral dispute of 2006/2007 was to blame has paled with the smoke-screened sun.

Fires above Hydra town

Yes, our duelling “mayors” were in Athens in court on July 25 (our future-former-post-almost mayors), and the rumor that one of their “henchmen” had deliberately set the Mandraki dump alight in order to embarrass the other is now yesterday’s bad joke.

Fire encroaches upon Hydra town

Our poor island has never seen the likes of this fire: neither the great fire of ’85 in which three brave volunteers died nor the three-day blaze in ’87 subdued Hydra like this.

It’s akin to a war zone. Helicopters, fire planes, and the navy have shown unbelievable skill and courage in fighting this blaze from dawn till dusk for two days now.

Helicopter bringing water around Kamini

Our headline could have been anything from “Fire Fight for Survival” to “Brave Pilots Fly Every Daylight Hour to Save the Town.” But we have simply called this one “Shame.” Shame, because this should not have happened, and it’s about time we stood up and said so.

Fire raging behind Hydra town

It could well be diplomatically correct to point out that with literally hundreds of wildfires raging across the country as a direct result of record-breaking heat wave temperatures, this was an inevitable result and yet further proof that this global warming stuff is for real. But the truth is that our island is on fire because of a simple lack of foresight, which is a polite way of saying stupidity.

It’s not like we didn’t have fair warning or time to plan for this disaster, as both previous serious fires started at the garbage dump, and already this summer two minor fires were extinguished in the same location.

Fire early day two from a boat

So why shame? We are not experts in municipal economics, but it doesn’t take much logic to understand that the cost of the capsized and unsuccessful Miaoulis fireworks boat could have saved us from this.

How? A pump and/or small reservoir at the “skoopethia” landfill could have stopped the fire in its tracks long before it spread. Now, our beautiful isle looks like it has been blitzed. In a way it has, and the cost cannot be tallied in terms of cash loss.

Plane fighting fire behind town

Why does it always take a disaster to make folks shout for what is right? In their efforts to gain favour with the popular vote, our “authorities” have advocated such wonderful schemes as paving and illuminating a road to Vlichos, spending thousands on the placement of pretty little benches and other artistic paraphernalia to enhance Hydra’s unique landscape. Grand ideas to be sure, but shouldn’t somebody have reserved just a few coins for the unattractive but practical project of ensuring that the repetitive source of fire could be combated before it became an island emergency?

It is too easy with hindsight to point fingers and lay blame, but come on chaps …

Plane going into the smoke

One would assume that now, maybe, something will be done to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring in future. But then, we said that in ’85, and again in’87, and heard it murmured about after several small-fire near misses subsequently.

Helicopter picking up water

In closing … absolute kudos to and admiration for the firefighting pilots and volunteers who have fought so desperately to save our island from total incineration.

Perhaps now, with Mr. Anastopoulos’s uncontested reinstatement as mayor, we can focus on serious matters.

David and Jennifer took the following pictures of the fire’s aftermath
during a boat trip around the island.

An entire valley destroyed on the back of Hydra Island
An entire valley destroyed on the back of Hydra Island

The new forest destroyed

The new forest destroyed

Beautiful Limonitze bay blackened

Beautiful Limonitze bay blackened

More evidence of devastation on the back of the island

More evidence of devastation on the back of the island

Fire devastation down to the water’s edge

Fire devastation down to the water's edge

A coastal chaple saved

A coastal chaple saved

A coastal home destroyed

Thanks to Jan McGiffin for sharing her photos from the days of the fires and from a hike to Episcopi showing the aftermath.

Fire on approach to Hydra town seen from Kamini

Fire on approach to Hydra town seen from Kamini

Fire bombing over Hydra as seen from Kamini

Fire bombing over Hydra as seen from Kamini

Night fires in Mandraki seen from Kamini

Night fires in Mandraki seen from Kamini

Night fires heading toward Vlichos and Episcopi seen from Kamini

Night fires heading toward Vlichos and Episcopi seen from Kamini

Fire devastation along the coast of Hydra island

Fire devastation along the coast of Hydra island

Fire devastation around an inland chapel

Fire devastation around an inland cottage

Fire damage right up to the door

Fire damage right up to the door


https://davidfagan.org/images/ArchiveImages/Fire%20devastation%20on%20the%20back%20of%20Hydra%20Island1.jpg
Jennifer
Jennifer first arrived on the Rock at the age of 10, after her father, Michael, bought a house above Hydra’s port. While she lived in Virginia year-round with her mother, Jeanne, and stepfather, Steve, she visited Hydra with her father every summer for a month, in her younger years tripping along the port chasing kitties, then later tripping home from Cavos to make her curfew (father had threatened to call the “police” if she was even a minute late).

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