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Veteran Australian firefighter says fires in Greece were among the worst he’s ever seen

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Aerial firefighter, Craig Patton, from Liverpool Plains in New South Wales has told ABC News the fires in Greece this year were “as bad as I have ever seen.”

“We’re actually fighting these fires right in the middle of suburbia,” he told the national broadcaster.

“Unfortunately for us that meant flying around in 47-degree temperatures in maybe 30-40 knots of winds, which in aviation terms is a pretty tough environment to operate in.”

READ MORE: Water bombers and crew return to Australia after fighting wildfires across Greece.

A man watches the flames as wildfire approaches Kochyli beach near Limni village on the island of Evia. Photo: AP Photo/Thodoris Nikolaou.

READ MORE: Greek Australian mums rally together to raise over $20,000 for wildfire relief in Greece.

In August, thousands of people were evacuated from their homes as wildfires raged through Greece, which was sweltering through its worst heatwave in more than 30 years.

Mr Patton, who has been flying planes for 32 years, was contracted by a Upper Hunter company to take a fleet of amphibious single-engine aircraft to Greece. The US-designed planes were being trialled for the first time by the Greek government.

READ MORE: Mytilineos sources helicopters and crew from Australia to fight fires in Greece.

These single engine amphibious craft were flown from Australia to demonstrate their firefighting capacity during the 2021 fires in Greece. Photo: ABC News / Craig Patton.

Mr Patton said the aircrafts were ideal for firefighting in densely populated urban areas, especially because 60 percent of the time the planes were the first line of attack.

He added that ground crews had limited resources but were highly skilled.

In response, the Greek government has announced the creation of a new Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry which will look at firefighting resources, disaster relief and policies to deal with future natural disasters.

READ MORE: Greece appoints former EU Commissioner to lead new climate ministry after wildfires.

Source: ABC News.

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