Local officials from Thessaloniki announced on Wednesday that they have selected two new methods to fight wildfires in the city’s peri-urban forest of Sheikh Sou, or Cedar Hill, as it is officially known.
The two methods include three radar dishes, which will serve as an early warning system in case fire breaks out in the forest, and the planting of slow-burning vegetation, which will prevent flames from spreading rapidly.
“When there is a fire, you can put it out even with a glass of water, during the initial stages. The longer you delay, the harder the work of the fire brigade becomes,” Babis Stergiadis, the head of Central Macedonia’s Civil Protection Department, stated.
The fire chief made the announcement during a press conference held on Wednesday. He explained that the radar dishes will be set up in different locations within the forest and will alert firefighters of new fires within two minutes.
The firefighting system will be commissioned by the Central Macedonia Region authority, using either EU funds or its own resources.
The main benefit of the new plan will be that the radar can pinpoint the exact location where a wildfire starts, which will allow the fire brigade to intervene quickly to prevent it from spreading.
The new plans also include also the adding of slow-burning vegetation such as oleander, acacia and rosemary, all of which will be planted along the roadsides which wind through the forest.
Cedar Hill or, as it is widely known in Greece by its previous Turkish name, “Sheikh Sou,” is a hilltop forest, north and northeast of the city of Thessaloniki, and to the west of Mount Chortiatis.
A large part of the forest was destroyed in a massive fire in August 1997, but the area is now covered in green again as a result of several successful reforestation efforts.