Evia, Greece, August 14, 2019
Around 500 residents from two villages were evacuated from their homes on the Greek island of Evia yesterday, as a major wildfire continues to blaze.
“The flames are 20-30 meters high ... you can't even see the sun,” Panos Agiannitis, a volunteer firefighter at the scene, told Athens municipal radio, reports aljazeera.com.
“I feared for my life ... you could feel the heat 250 metres away. The only way for this fire to be extinguished is when there's nothing left to burn,” he added.
Firefighters are still fighting the blaze, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures, today.
Thankfully, no fatalities have been recorded, including at the Monastery of Panagia Makrymallis, which was also evacuated as a precaution.
According to His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Chalkida, the monks are all safe and the monastery is not currently in danger, reports Romfea.
“The monastery has been evacuated for precautionary reasons. There are three monks there who notified us at dawn, around 3:30 am to 4:00 am,” the metropolitan explained.
The monastery is home to relics of several great saints, including Sts. Tryphon, Charalampos, Panteleimon, John the Forerunner, and several others. The monastery is also home to a silver Gospel from 1754, a chalice from 1796, and a censer from 1808, and a rich library collection.
As Romfea reports, Met. Chrysostomos rearranged his schedule to be with the victims of the fire, serving Vespers for the feast of the Dormition in one of the villages that had previously been evacuated, Kontodespoti.
The monastery’s Elder Iakovos praised the brave firefighters who protected the monastery, saying: “By the grace of God everything will be done again. The men of the Fire Department fought hard to save the historic Monastery of the Panagia.”