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Analysis of forest fire fatalities in Greece: 1977–2013

Diakakis, Michalis, Xanthopoulos, Gavriil, Gregos, Leontios
The International journal of wildland fire 2016 v.25 no.7 pp. 797-809
aircraft, databases, disasters, fire fighters, fire fighting, forest ecosystems, forest fires, forests, humans, infrastructure, inventories, males, open space, wildland-urban interface, Greece
Although forest fires are considered an integral part of forest ecosystems, the abundance of human activities in forested areas has led to a significant number of human casualties and to important effects on properties and infrastructure. Over recent decades, Greece has suffered extensive forest fire disasters, with a significant number of fatalities being recorded. However, there is no coherent inventory of human losses from fires in the country. This work develops and examines a database of 208 fatalities occurring in 78 forest fires in Greece between 1977 and 2013 to provide a better understanding of the circumstances under which fatal incidents occur. Around three-quarters of the victims were civilians; the remainder were firefighters, forest service officials and aircraft crews. Most deaths occurred in July and August, generally under adverse meteorological conditions. Male and older individuals showed an overrepresentation among the victims. A significant number of fatalities occurred in open space, mostly in wildland–urban interface areas and in tall forest vegetation. Late evacuation on foot or in a vehicle and firefighting were the most common activities of victims at the time of the incidents.