Firemen tackle a blaze in the eastern Athens area of Keratea. Strong winds are pushing the flames towards residential areas. [AFP]
As voters in Greece go to the polls to determine whether they stay in the eurozone, blazes are being fought around the capital. A number of wildfires have broken out around Athens during the last two days and dozens of people have been evacuated.
The first fire broke out near the town of Keratea, 50km to the south of Athens on Saturday. It is thought to have started accidently at a construction site during welding work. Four people have been arrested. Several houses have been damaged and many more still remain at risk.
More than 150 firefighters and soldiers using over 60 vehicles are still battling the blaze, along with a number of water dropping aircraft. Greece has requested help from Italy, France and Croatia in the form of firefighting planes.
So far, three firefighters have been injured, but there are not thought to have been any civilian casualties. According to authorities, an old peoples’ home was evacuated and its 42 residents have been moved to a nearby resort.
At least three smaller fires have also flared up. One is in the district of Pallini, just to the east of Athens. Two others broke out in the northwest and southeastern corners of the southern Greek Peloponnese peninsula.
The weather remains hot, dry and gusty, and although the temperature has dropped recently, the winds continue to touch gale force at times. Gusts of up to 70kph have been fanning those flames. As a result warnings remain in place and there is no sign of any useful rain in the forecast over the next few days.