Greece wildfires force thousands to flee Rhodes as hundreds of firefighters rush to extinguish flames

Vacation companies TUI and Jet2 have both provided updates on social media and said they have canceled flights to Rhodes for the next several days

ATHENS, Greece – Thousands of people have been evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes as massive wildfires continue to burn in the European nation.

According to a report from the Associated Press, nearly 20,000 people have evacuated by both land and sea from villages and hotels on the island.


Vacation companies TUI and Jet2 have both provided updates on social media and said they have canceled flights to Rhodes.

TUI said all outbound flights to Rhodes had been canceled through at least Tuesday, and passengers would be provided full refunds. In addition, TUI said customers already in Rhodes would be able to return on their intended flights home.

Jet2 also announced that it had canceled all flights through Sunday, July 30. Empty aircraft would continue to travel to Rhodes to bring customers there back to the United Kingdom on their scheduled flights.

The Associated Press reports at least six people were hospitalized with respiratory problems and were later released. In addition, one person who fell and broke their leg during the evacuation and a pregnant woman remained in the hospital.

Fire officials in Greece say at least five regions of the country remain under an extreme fire risk as of Sunday:

  • Attica
  • Central Greece (PE Boeotia, PE Evia)
  • Peloponnese (Argolida Region, Corinthia Region, Messinia Region)
  • Western Greece (Ilia)
  • South Aegean Region (Rhodes Region)

Residents in those regions and beyond are urged to refrain from any activities that could ignite a fire, including burning dry grass or branches, using machines that could cause a spark, using grills, or carelessly disposing of cigarettes.

"Finally, we ask all citizens to be especially careful and, in the event of a fire, for their own safety, to faithfully follow the instructions of competent authorities," fire officials said.

Fire officials said that as of Sunday afternoon, hundreds of firefighters and volunteers were working to extinguish fires on the ground, the AP reported. In addition, 10 firefighting planes are helping from the air, including eight helicopters.

Temperatures skyrocket across Europe

Extreme temperatures continue across Europe, prompting heat warnings and the closure of top tourist destinations, including ones in Greece which is only adding to the extreme fire conditions. 

Red alert warnings, similar to Excessive Heat Warnings by the National Weather Service in the U.S., have been issued in southern Italy, parts of Spain, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The UK Met Office forecasted temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in parts of Italy and Greece.

Rome, for example, will see high temperatures around 102 degrees on Monday but will drop into the upper 80s by Thursday. Athens is expected to stay hot for the next several days, with a forecast high temperature of 102 on Monday and Tuesday, 107 on Wednesday and dropping into the upper 90s by Thursday.