2.1 The burned areas
Figure 4 illustrates the areas of Greece affected during the height of the wildfires in August and September 2007. The fires mainly affected western and southern Peloponnese as well as southern Euboea. Extensive fire fronts were created when fires merged, advanced into villages, and could only be put out after several days (Karamichas, 2007, p. 528).
The worst affected area of Greece was the regional unit of Ilia (also known as Elis), situated on the Peloponnese Peninsula. Nearly 40% of forest land in the area was burnt and 44 people were killed (Karanikola et al., 2013).
The fires in Ilia generated particular concern. Not only because of their extent and the deaths and devastation they caused, but also because they threatened the archaeological site of ancient Olympia. Olympia is globally renowned as the birthplace of the Olympic Games and it is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site (Bassi & Kettunen, 2008). In the end, the 2007 fires burned right around the edges of the site. None of the ancient ruins were burnt. However, the surrounding landscape and even the culturally significant Kronios Hill, which forms part of the site, were severely affected. The two images below show some of the damage that was done to Kronios and the surrounding hills.
In the next section you will begin to consider why these wildfires happened.