Greece Wildfires Destroy Ancient Olive Tree That Was 2,500 Years Old

A historic, 2,500-year-old olive tree on the Greek island of Evia has been destroyed amid ongoing wildfires that have forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

Local resident Apostolis Panagiotou posted images of the tree on Twitter Sunday, showing it before and after the fires.

The tree, which was fertile and still producing olives, was so large that 10 people could fit along the diameter of its trunk, according to the Greek Reporter.

The ancient tree, located in the olive grove of Rovia, even featured in the writings of renowned Greek geographer, philosopher and historian Strabo, who lived about 2,000 years ago.

But images taken after fires ravaged the ancient olive grove in the north of the island show that the tree had been reduced to a hollowed out stump, with only fragments of its trunk remaining.

ΡΟΒΙΕΣ Ευβοίας: Ελιά…2500 χρόνων‼️
Πριν και μετά την ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡΟΦΗ ‼️
Ελαιώνας ΠΑΠΑΔΟΠΟΥΛΟΥ‼️  pic.twitter.com/0wqeZ7hmUO

— apostolis panagiotou (@appanagiotou) August 8, 2021

Catastrophic wildfires continue to rip through parts of the island—Greece's second largest, located just off the mainland to the northeast of Athens—having burned for more than six days.

Two main fire fronts have scorched thousands of hectares of pristine forest, as well as engulfing several villages, Reuters reported.

The wildfires have forced many locals to flee their homes, with the coastguard having already evacuated parts of the island, removing more than 2,000 people by sea.

Firefighters have been struggling to keep the blazes at bay with local officials warning that not enough help has been sent.

Giannis Kontzias, mayor of the municipality of Istiaia–Aidipsos in the north of the island told the Greek Reporter on Sunday: "Truth be told, we could have saved much more. I'm making a dramatic appeal [to the Greek authorities] to bring aircraft. Very few of them arrived yesterday, but they were inadequate."

"One after the other our villages fall. One municipal unit after the other is being destroyed completely. What's saved has been saved by volunteers and the soul of the residents of this land. Our children will never see the environment and our land in the same way we saw it. We'll be struggling for decades to bring northern Evia back to what it used to be."

The fires in Evia come amid Greece's most severe heatwave in three decades, with temperatures in some parts of the country exceeding 113 degrees Fahrenheit, creating the perfect conditions for the blazes to spread.

Several wildfires have broken out in the country over the past few days, including blazes just outside of the capital, Athens.

One resident of Evia, who gave her name as Mina, told Reuters after she had boarded a rescue ferry at the town of Pefki: "[It's] like a horror movie. But now this is not the movie, this is real life, this is the horror that we have lived with for the last week."

Wildfires on Evia island in Greece
A blaze engulfs trees in its path as forest fires approach the village of Pefki on Evia, Greece's second largest island, on August 8, 2021. Wildfires on the island destroyed an ancient, 2,500-year-old olive tree. ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images