A photograph of a Greek firefighter giving water to a turtle caught in the epicenter of the fire impressed the German Air Force journalists so much that they tracked down the man and interviewed him.
The turtle incident occurred at the end of July when Akis Bardakis was fighting a fire in another fire. At some point after work, he saw a turtle on the burnt ground suffering from stress and thirst. The moment when he gave her water from his bottle of water, and got into a photo that shocked journalists. In a conversation with them, Akis told about his work:
“We have good equipment. That said, it is, of course, incredibly tiring, but usually you only feel tired after work. In the meantime, you often do not even notice this simply because there are more important things to do: saving people and their things. We work all winter to prevent such a big fire. We clear forests, forest paths to prepare for the summer. If not for these preparations, there would have been many more catastrophes. But there are forests all over the country, they are densely forested and full of pines. They are highly flammable. “
In an interview with journalists, Akis Bardakis also noted the moral complexity of his work:
“We want to save people, but sometimes it’s hard to convince them to leave. There are old people, children, animals. And they have to give up everything. One old man told me, “My boy, I built this house out of sweat and blood, and I don’t want to leave.” In such moments, you need to choose the right words. We are available 24 hours a day. New fires break out all the time, even near big cities like Athens. I serve in a special forces unit. We fly by helicopter directly to the bonfires, with experienced pilots. To put out the fire right there. “
And of course, the conversation turned to the meeting of the firefighter with the turtle that became a celebrity. The firefighter said:
“When we finally extinguished the fire in Drosia after hours, we controlled the forest. Then we found the turtle and were completely surprised that its shell remained intact. We lifted her up and she shook her head. We gave her water to drink and then carried her to the forest that had survived the fire. Moments like these give me strength. This is a reward for all efforts: to see that we can save something and someone. “
The Greek firefighter posted a photo on his Instagram account with the caption: “The future begins today.”