Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More on the Fires Devastaing Greece-"Local Greeks are concerned"

A firefighter gestures in front of a blaze on the Peloponnese peninsula Monday

Anne Kyle, Leader-Post
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It has been a scary time for one Regina couple, Gus and Soula Efthimiou, whose summer home in Greece was under siege from wildfires approaching their village from several directions.

The fires that have been ravaging the Greek countryside are being blamed for the deaths of 63 people in four days.

"For the time being, from the latest I heard, my in-laws are fine. But they had some very, very scary moments in the last couple of days where they were ready on a moment's notice to evacuate,'' said Chris Perentes, the Efthimious' son-in-law.

"My in-laws are right in the area of some of the major fires that are going on close to ancient Olympia. Their village is about a 15-minute drive from Olympia.''

On Sunday firefighters won a battle to save Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games in the Peloponnese peninsula, beating back fires menacing the ancient stadiums and temples.

"Their village had some fires approaching from a couple of sides but they have been able to put them out and in one instance the wind changed direction and spared the village,'' said Perentes, who returned to Canada 10 days ago and was expecting his wife and children to arrive home from Athens on Monday night.

"They still have no power or water. It is a difficult time for them because they are always on the lookout for flareups around the village.''

Regina's Greek community is rallying behind their countrymen in Greece whose lives have been devastated by wildfires ravaging the Peloponnese peninsula destroying entire villages.

"There have been a number of fairly major fires (in and around the Athens area) that actually started back in July and at that time the Greek Orthodox (Church of Canada) Metropolis of Toronto organized a committee from members across Canada to raise funds for reforestation,'' Perentes said.

"That was the initial goal. Now in light of these events in which 63 people have been killed in fires in the last three or four days, I expect that will change. I think there is going to be some efforts to raise funds to help some of the victims of the fires as well.''

Rev. Spiridon Vandoros, at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Regina, said only about 10 per cent of his congregation have roots in the affected area, but it touches everyone in the close-knit Greek community.

"We have one member whose parents' house burnt to the ground," said Perentes, who is president of the St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church Community Association. "He is going to have to go back to Greece to help his parents make arrangements as to where they are going to live. It is pretty scary. Fortunately, most people don't have families living that close to the fire."

Those wanting to make donations to help fire victims can e-mail the church at or contact the church directly, Perentes said.

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