On July 30 th of 2007 a wild fire started in hills above the village of Skafi in the western part of the Selino valley (West of Sfakia, Crete). The mild wind was southwards. Despite this, the fires spreaded into all directions, in this way threatening villages like Zagkariasto, Maralia, Agriles and Livada, next to Skafi of course.
During daylight, fire fighters were working hard to stop the fires but without much success. From the air they were assisted by one or two Canadian water planes and two helicopters. The water planes refilled in the bay of Chania, the helicopters went south in the bay of Sougia for refilling. They were assisted by people from all over the area that were constantly driving in and out with the well known black water tanks on their 4x4’s and tractors.
At sunset, around 19.30, the air support stopped and so the fires got worse. Villagers in Livada and Agriles were waiting for the worst to happen because around 18.00 already the first flames came over the hills in the direction of both villages. However, a few younger people from Livada took over the coordination, and slowly, real slowly fires got less and less. Seat of fire after seat of fire was stopped. So around midnight only the remains of trees were burning and glowing in the dark. Really a scary and almost surreal view from our house. I stayed up until 4.00 but by then I got the feeling that we were save.
The next morning the air support started again as soon as they could fly. There were still a lot of small seats of fire, especially in the mountains were access with 4x4 and fire trucks isn’t that easy. In the late morning the next day we walked through Livada into the scorched area. It was a weird bizarre view. All those burned trees, grapes, the greens. But more scary was the fact that everywhere there was still smoke. At a certain point we saw just a little plume of smoke under an oak tree. Within a few seconds, suddenly and without any warning, the whole tree was in flames. A minute later the fire was gone. Only the smoking tree remained.
In the images below the differences between both days are clear. Watch the colours of the day of the fire and watch the colours of the next day.
Most of the images are taken from our house, except the ones at Elyros restaurant and the ones in the valley above Maralia the next day. We stopped making photographs when we saw the flames coming over the hills because by then we started to pack our car with the papers and goods we needed in case the fire would reach us. So no complete coverage, no night pictures. Still I hope the faces of the people say enough. As my good friend Giorgi from Rodovani said: "He who started this is not a good person, he is not a patriot". What/who started the fire is unknown, probably someone making a BBQ or just someone burning leaves.