Firefighters in Greece struggle to contain wildfire near Athens

Blazes break out on the outskirts of the capital, forcing more evacuations.

Firefighters and volunteers flee as a wildfire burns in the village of Hasia, near Athens
Firefighters and volunteers flee as a wildfire burns in the village of Hasia, near Athens [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]

Hundreds of firefighters in Greece struggled to contain a wildfire overnight on the outskirts of Athens, a day after the charred bodies of at least 18 people were discovered in northeastern Greece where a blaze had been raging.

Tuesday’s fire broke out near the village of Fyli on the foothills of Mount Parnitha, about 25km (15 miles) north of Athens, and spread towards the town of Menidi.

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About 150 people had to be evacuated from three nursing homes, according to a local official.

Homes and cars were left burning and residents fled on foot with their animals, towards safety.

“Unfortunately the wind isn’t helping at all,” Stathis Topalidis, deputy mayor of Menidi, told state broadcaster ERT.

He added that all the elderly had been evacuated to hotels or nearby healthcare facilities.

In the Greek port city of Alexandroupolis near the capital, dozens of hospital patients, some on stretchers, others with IV drips attached to their hands, were evacuated onto a ferry.

Greek authorities have warned that new blazes could occur during the week as the country grapples with a heatwave.

In July, the country experienced a torrid month and thousands of tourists had to be evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes, where a wildfire raged for an entire week.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that the Mediterranean nation was at war with wildfires raging across the country in July.

“We will rebuild what we lost, we will compensate those who were hurt … The climate crisis is already here. It will manifest itself everywhere in the Mediterranean with greater disasters,” he said.

Six countries have also been sending help via the European Union’s civil protection mechanism, the Greek fire department said.

About 120 firefighters from Cyprus, Romania, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany and Serbia will also pitch in, according to the fire department spokesman.

Source: News Agencies