Panayiota Kritsiopi cries out as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece.
2022 Photo Contest, Europe, Singles

Evia Island Wildfire


Konstantinos Tsakalidis

for Bloomberg News
08 August, 2021

Panayiota Kritsiopi cries out as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece.

Wildfires broke out on Evia – Greece’s largest island after Crete – in July and August, following the hottest weather Greece had experienced in 30 years. The megafire (so called because of its intensity, size, duration and uncontrolled character) raged through large forests in the north of the island, as well as rural and urban areas, and took almost two weeks to bring under control. Around 1,000 firefighters battled the blaze, with extra equipment flown in from other EU countries, Russia, the UK and the US. Some 2,500 people were evacuated by boat, and, according to the University of Athens, the fire eventually covered an expanse of more than 1,900 square kilometers, more than half the island’s area. 

Annual fires are a common occurrence in the Mediterranean, but stronger heatwaves led to a longer, more intense annual fire season. Devastating wildfires also took place in Turkey, Italy, Spain in 2021. While global heating is undoubtedly a factor in the fire on Evia, local reports also pointed to other contributing factors, such as rural depopulation (resulting in lack of land management), budget cuts in the fire brigade, and changes in fire management strategies. 

This photograph became a symbol of the impact of wildfires in Europe. Kritsiopi is quoted as saying: “At that moment I was shouting not only for myself. For the whole village.” In the end, her home remained intact. The fire stopped meters before her yard.

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Konstantinos Tsakalidis
About the photographer

Konstantinos Tsakalidis (1986) is a freelance photojournalist based in Thessaloniki, Greece. He graduated from the Department of Informatics of Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki and from the Photographic Center Stereosis. Since 2013, Tsakalidis has documented issues related to the Greek crisis, ...

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Technical information
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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Jury comment

The jury felt that this wonderfully composed image portrays a visceral and emotional connection between the woman and her surrounding landscape. Looking at the image, one can feel the overwhelming sense of loss which evokes a sense of mourning on multiple levels; emotional and environmental. Furthermore, the image is dramatic and presents a very real reaction to the fires, and the broader issue of the climate crisis, that is having a major impact on Europe.