Wildfire raging uncontrolled on outskirts of Athens forces thousands to flee
Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said firefighers saved 100 properties. — Photo: © AFP
Thousands of people fled their homes north of Athens on Tuesday as over 500 firefighters struggled through the night to contain a large forest fire burning on the outskirts of Athens. The blaze is just one of 81 wildfires burning in Greece over the last day.
Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said the fire north of Athens was “very dangerous,” and had been made even worse by strong winds and tinder-dry conditions due to the heat that reached 45 Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the area, reports the Associated Press.
As night fell, firefighters battled the blaze on the lower slopes of Mount Parnitha, aided by nine helicopters, seven aircraft, and 305 police in a densely vegetated area in the suburbs of Varympopi and Adames. The intensity of the flames scorched homes and cars and forced residents to flee.
is reporting that the greater Athens regional governor George Patoulis told state-run ERT television: “It is a large fire and it will take a lot of work to get this under control. The foliage is very dense in these areas and it is very dried out due to the heatwave, so the conditions are difficult.”
The wildfire also forced the partial closure of Greece’s main north-south highway. Residents left their homes in cars and on motorcycles, often clutching pets, heading toward the capital amid a blanket of smoke.
Water-laden helicopters were used in the battle against the fire in Ziria, near Patras. Photo: © AFP
Fire crews went house-to-house, making sure everyone knew to evacuate, and no one is missing and no deaths have been reported, although Greek media said six people required treatment for light breathing complaints.
According to Reuters,
in Athens, the power grid operator IPTO said the fire had damaged parts of the grid, posing a major risk to the electricity supply in parts of the metropolitan region.
“Dozens of homes are being burnt,” Michalis Vrettos, deputy mayor of the Acharnes region, told Open TV as thick plumes of smoke rose over the houses behind him.
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