Three large wildfires churned across Greece on Saturday, with one threatening whole towns and cutting a line across Evia, the country’s second-largest island, isolating its northern part.
Others engulfed forested mountainsides and skirted ancient sites, leaving behind a trail of destruction that one official described as “a biblical catastrophe”.
Firefighters were fighting through the night to save Istiaia, a town of 7,000 in northern Evia, as well as several villages, using bulldozers to open up clear paths in the thick forest.
The other dangerous fires were one in Greece’s southern Peloponnese Peninsula, near Ancient Olympia, and one in Fokida, in the Central Greece region north of Athens.
The fire in Olympia moved east, away from the ancient site, threatening villages in a sudden flare-up on Saturday afternoon.
North of Athens, the fire on Mount Parnitha – a national park with substantial forests – was still burning with occasional flare-ups.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters on Saturday night that firefighters hoped to contain the fire on Sunday.
Smoke from that fire was still spreading across the Athens basin.
Earlier, the blaze had sent choking smoke across the Greek capital, where authorities set up hotlines for residents needing health assistance.