A losing battle to save the lungs of Athens as wildfires grip Greece

ATHENS-In Agia Paraskevi, one of the villages dotted around Mount Panitha, just 15 miles north of Greece’s capital, Athens, we found a familiar sight: a woman standing in front of a burned house, its black, skeletal roof beams reaching imploringly into the smoldering sky as if begging for mercy. Tears streamed down her face as she contemplated what she lost. She cried softly in almost resigned despair. Greece is once again in the grip of wildfires, and this year they are worse than ever. Hours earlier we were standing in the same village, talking to Nikos as he stood outside his home, eyeing the advancing smoke. He was spraying a thin stream of water through a skinny hosepipe, dousing parked cars and soaking the ground around his home, in what surely seemed a futile attempt to ward off the impending danger. Nikos told me he had been doing this for two days. He had packed a bag with a few clothes and, along with his wife and their dog, was prepared to leave – if the authorities forced him to do so. “Only if someone puts a gun to my head,” he told me.

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