Wildfire rages on Greek island Evia, smoke reaches Athens

Environment

The Acropolis hill with the Parthenon temple is covered with smoke from a wildfire burning the Island of Evia, in Athens, Greece August 13, 2019.REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) – A large wildfire fanned by strong winds burned tracts of pine forest on the Greek island of Evia, firefighters said on Tuesday, with evacuation ordered of two villages in the path of the flames.

Wildfires raged uncontrolled in at least four other Greek regions, and the fire brigade said it had been called to put out 182 fires in the last three days.

More than 227 firemen, aided by five helicopters and six other aircraft, were battling the blaze on Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, where a monastery had already been evacuated. It generated thick smoke that blanketed the capital, Athens, some 110 kilometers (70 miles) away.

The villages of Kontodespoti and Makrimalli were being evacuated protectively, a fire brigade official said.

Greek TV showed thick, dark smoke blanketing the area with ash falling kilometers away, blown by strong winds.

A local mayor told state TV ERT the wildfire had reached home gardens at Kontodespoti,

No fatalities had been reported and the winds were expected to subside in the evening.

Greece often faces wildfires during its dry summer months, and authorities have warned of the high risk of blazes this week. Environmental campaigners see increased wildfires around the world as a worrying symptom of global warming.

Last year, a wildfire killed 100 people in the seaside town of Mati near Athens, and in 2007 fires killed 65, scorched thousands of hectares of forest and farmland and threatened archaeological sites.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou, George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne

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