Cyprus Mail

Greece tames wildfire near Athens, hundreds evacuated

wildfires near athens
A firefighter works to extinguish a wildfire burning in Pallini, near Athens, Greece

Greek authorities said on Wednesday they had brought under control a wildfire in mountains near Athens that forced hundreds of people to flee and damaged homes and cars.

The blaze broke out on Tuesday some 27 km (16 miles) north of the capital and, fanned by gale-force winds, spread quickly to nearby districts – including Penteli, Anthousa and Dioni – with a total population of about 90,000.

“Right now, the fire in Penteli has no active front. Μost of it has been contained”, Fire Department spokesperson Yiannis Artopios said in televised statement.

But with strong winds forecast to persist until Thursday, around 485 firefighters, 120 fire engines and almost 20 aircraft, remained deployed to minimise the risk of flare-ups, Artopios added.

In the meantime, Artopios said, a second fire had broken out near the city of Megara, some 40 kilometres west of Athens, and authorities had already ordered the evacuation of a settlement.

In Penteli, firefighters recovered the body of an 84-year old man who died from shotgun injuries, police said. A fire brigade spokesman said the injuries appeared to be self-inflicted but the incident was under investigation.

There are a number of destroyed homes and businesses. We will have a clearer count tomorrow,” Thanasis Zoutsos, the mayor of Pallini, on the outskirts of Athens told state ERT TV.

Civil protection ordered the evacuation of at least nine districts and helped at least 600 people flee their homes.

Penteli suffered a wildfire in July 2018 and huge fires there in 1995 and 1998 burned more than 13,000 hectares.

Last year, wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as it experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

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