Home is Where we Hook-up

August 28, 2007

Hell on Earth

Filed under: Firefighting,Travel,Travel in Europe — Heligypsy @ 11:23 pm

The phone call Keith took on Saturday during lunch was eerily familiar. Just two years ago his phone rang during our lunch out, and by that afternoon he was off flying to Louisiana to help rescue efforts after Katrina. Last Saturdays call had him on the road in an hour to begin helping to fight the fires in Greece.

Most of you who’ve seen footage of the current fires in Greece have heard the analogy likening these blazes to Hell. The first time I heard Keith say it was after he’d driven through three roadblocks and walls of fire to get to Kalamata to relieve the other pilots.

“It was like driving through Hell.” he told me. With a very sad heart I could visualize the once olive tree covered hills now black as night, smoldering, dead. The destruction and devastation and death is just sickening.

I am getting my news about the catastrophe from some of the same sources as you – MSNBC, CNN, AP, Yahoo! News, and I thank those of you who have sent me links to stories. I appreciate your support while we are here. There is a young Greek who has befriended me (she likes to practice her English) who came over the other evening strictly to watch the news and translate for me. She was irritated about all the news on the four Super Pumas the Swiss had sent over, and exclaimed to the t.v. “There is Erickson AirCrane here too!” She is new with the company and her loyalties made me smile.

One minute she tells me the Archaeological Museum in Olympia is in danger. The next she says, “No, it is safe”, five minutes later she thinks it has been lost to the fire. Frankly, to this second I am still not 100% sure of the status of the museum. Then she reports there are 50 people trapped by fire, there is no way to rescue them. I’m sure she is interpreting this wrong – FIFTY human beings and no resources to help them. Uuuughh, there is no comprehending what is going on over here. I read a news story later about a heroic helicopter rescue of 5 trapped individuals. Were these the same people Anna Maria translated about? If not, what happened to them?

Keith is safe and might even be returning home tonight, that’s good news, it’s the only good news I can think of. I have stopped watching the news footage, I can no longer sit and watch the soot and sweat covered people, terrified and in danger, run for their lives just yards ahead of angry flames. Or worse yet, to see them not running, but standing with garden hoses and olive branches, they seem to think they can fight this. Its real and I can’t believe my eyes. This is one of those times I mentioned before, I will hear stories of the fight weeks and months down the road – I’m ok with that.

There is something to understand about what’s happening. These people have worked their whole lives to build what little they have in these villages. If they lose what they have built to fire, there is no one going to swoop in and help them rebuild anything. It’s gone. They risk their lives because it’s all they have, and this time that risk has been catastrophically fatal.

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4 Comments »

  1. Praying for the safety of both of you. There’s been “talk” the fires may be linked to terrorism, are you hearing that over there?

    Comment by JennH — August 29, 2007 @ 4:59 am | Reply

  2. What they are trying to decide is whether or not to charge the arsonists with acts of terrorism. I may try to blog about the cluster issues regarding private land, public land, zoning, development and so forth. Right now the laws are so totally vague about zoning, that if an area is zoned as forest and therefore unsuitable for building, all a guy has to do is burn it down, apply for building permits, and voila a new complex of ugly boxes. Its been going on like this for quite some time, but this summer has put a whole new spin on it – somethings got to change.

    Egg me on, I’ll try to get into it šŸ™‚

    Comment by borderlinegypsies — August 29, 2007 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  3. The way it looks on our nightly news, the whole country is on fire. I predicted that this summer the Ijahist terrorist would light up our forrest here in California and I was almost right with the Zapa Fire started on 7-4-07 and will be controled by 9-4-07 two whole months its been burning. But not set by terrorist. But I think your going to see more of this in the future, because its so easy to get away with. They have only got started !
    So mush for Global Warming !

    Comment by Uncle Bob — August 29, 2007 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  4. I heard and saw reports that 50 to 60 people total have died in Greece from the fires. That was last Thursday that I heard those numbers. The actual total now might be higher.

    Comment by Bonnie — August 29, 2007 @ 10:19 pm | Reply


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