MATI, Greece – The soot-smothered mermaid doll lying among the detritus of a fire-gutted home may have been in a child's hands just before the flames swept through the structure.
The little canary's chirps were probably silenced just as the fire's chocking smoke engulfed its tiny cage. All that remains of a bicycle that was once a child's pride and joy is now a blackened hulk. And a singed soccer ball with a Chelsea logo emblazoned on it won't be used again for another kid's pick-up game.
These are a few of the personal items left strewn among the burnt-out remains of hundreds of homes in this coastal resort community that was devastated by Monday's wildfire in Greece. They bear silent witness to a resort teeming with life as many families enjoyed their summer holidays.
More than 86 people were either killed by the flames or drowned as they tried to flee the fire into the nearby sea, waiting for hours in the water for rescue from local fishermen and private boat owners who saved many.
The speed with which the fire swept through the area 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of the capital was something never encountered before, firefighters and first responders said.
They said many among the victims where children. Flames had burned so hot, that they melted the metal from some cars into puddles.
Authorities have already begun the clean-up as crews continue to look through homes for bodies — some so badly charred that it sometimes took firefighters two or three passes through the same structures to spot them.
More than 2,000 homes were damaged in the fire and roughly a quarter will have to be demolished. And with them, the once-cherished items will be taken away too.