Climate change warning for Wales after firefighters return from tackling Greek wildfires

  • Video report by ITV Wales National Correspondent Rob Osborne

Four firefighters from south Wales who travelled to Greece to help fight the devastating wildfires there have described the "arduous conditions" they faced.

Four firefighters from south Wales with specialist wildfire knowledge and experience volunteered alongside colleagues from Merseyside, Lancashire, London and West Midlands to fly to Greece as ferocious blazes spread through country.

The men developed their expertise from fighting wildfires in the south Wales valleys and recently returned from Greece after a week working in dangerous conditions.

Hundreds of wildfires have torn through Greece and other European countries this summer following a severe heat wave - one of the hottest for decades.

"The conditions were very hard out there", firefighter Dean Evans told ITV News. "It was humid and very hot. They were arduous conditions, especially up on the mountains".

"It's very similar to the fires we sometimes have in the valleys", Dean said, "Especially in spring to early summer time".

The firefighters have returned to Wales after a week in dangerous conditions in Greece

Craig Hope regularly posts pictures and videos on social media of wild and grass fires in Wales and the crew's experience made them a valuable asset to firefighters tackling the deadly blazes in mainland Europe.

"Through the fires here we have developed training and we have this toolbox of tools to help tackle them.

"Leaf blowers help to blow out the flames, high-pressure fogging units and we have a mile of forestry hose now so we can get far away from the road and the fire appliances".

British teams sent to Greece to help tackle wildfires Credit: AP

Even with all the right equipment, nothing could prepare the firefighters for the heatwave in Greece.

"The temperatures were mid to high 40s in some areas working in the mountainous areas", Ross Hughes said.

"The difference is that we work in the night time a lot in Wales", Chris Deacon added. "We tend to tactically burn in the night when the winds are down, but out there we couldn't tactically burn so we had to work through the day and in the heat".

These conditions, however, are not a one off. The developing climate emergency means increasing temperatures and increasingly extreme weather systems will continue to affect Wales.

Alongside severe flooding, Wales will see more wild and grass fires, and south Wales firefighters are as prepared as they can be.

"The same things as are happening in Greece may happen here in 20 odd years", Ross explained. "We may need the help of our European counterparts and if we don't make these friendships now like we have been, we're not going to be in a very position ourselves".

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