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Kefalonia is still largely an undeveloped, rural island pleasantly endowed with vegetation including the native Kefalonia Fir Tree (Abies cephalonica). The long, hot and dry summers leave the flora tinder-dry. Bush fires are not uncommon. Mostly they are contained and remain relatively small but big fires do occur, sometimes with deadly consequences. During the summer of 2007 fires raged throughout many parts of Greece, resulting in the death of at least 65 people.

"Everyone knows" who starts the fires, it's: tourists / foreigners / secret agents / property developers / shepherds. It just depends on the current whim of the rumour mill. And, on odd occasion, it might be true. However, contrary to popular belief, not all Greeks are nice, jolly, stable people: some are pyromaniacs who find fire-starting fun and some are arsonists seeking to profit from the devastation and death. Where prosecutions have proved possible, very often fires have started through negligence: a ya-ya (granny) letting the cooking pot burn dry, some guy accidentally setting the shack alight while welding.

However started, fires can be devasting, if not deadly.

On 27 August, 2009, Colonel Stergios Kotoulas was killed when his 'plane crashed while fighting a fire in Katelios.

In 2007 a fire ripped through south-east Kefalonia. Although no-one was seriously injured at least four homes were totally destroyed, along with crops and livestock, i.e. peoples’ livelihoods.

The fire started outside Poros, in a valley on the slopes between the villages of Tzanata and Kapandriti, on the evening of 24 July, 2007.fire
During the night the cracking of burning trees could be plainly heard as the fire spread west towards Agia Eirini fire
Fanned by the wind the fire spread across the Poros - Argostoli road and raced up towards Kornelo and Agios Yeorgiosfire
Well beyond the control of the local fire fighters, at daybreak the fight was fought from the air, helicopters picking up water from the reservoir at Tzanatafire
Racing past Agios Yeorgos, Pastra and Kremmydi the fire threatened to surround Markopoulofire
as it spread down the valley towards Kateliosfire
Covering the village in dense smoke, as though a dark cloud had descendedfire
The fire spread down to Ano Kateliosfire
Threatening to confront the firefighters on the beachfire
As the day wore on the firefighters contained the threat in Katelios and let the fire burn itself outfire
As night fell on Katelios the fire continued to burn towards Ratzakli and Skalafire
Day break again saw fire planes tackling the blaze - with great successfire
The fire was contained and almost expired fire
Time to assess the extent of damagefire
and discover the fire had revealed patterns normally obscured by vegetationfire
Firefighters could take a well earned breakfire
as media crews recorded the aftermath.fire
Markopoulo: house on the hill above Kateliosfire
Next to the Panatzatos cheese shop, Pastrafire
Crystal Palace, Skalacryspal
Street light outside Aeolos, Skalafire
Telephone poles didn't escapefire
This one at Astoupadesfire
still smoldering mid morningfire
Mains power suffered outages and candles couldn't cope with the excess heatfire
The view from Agios Yeorgios towards Agia Eirini and Tzanatafire
The sign says enoughfire
You are here... wherever that is
But at least you're still herefire
Whereas out in the hills near Kornelofire
The old olive pressfire
near Asprogerakasfire
Old, abandoned, homes in Asprogerakasfire
finally fellfire
Remains of someone's home at Kornellofire
evacuated before the fire destroyed itfire

All photos copyright of Maik @ GGi

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