Firemen battle mountain fire near Athens for fourth day

Firemen battle mountain fire near Athens forfourth day

1 July 2007

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Greece — Greek firefighters backed by troops battled for thefourth day Sunday to halt a forest fire ravaging a nature park overlooking Athens,as the country sweltered in a record heatwave.

Walls of flames were still resisting attempts to extinguish them, although”they have lost a lot of their intensity,” a spokeswoman for the fireservice said.

“We remain mobilised, because the wind is strengthening again,” sheadded.

Since Thursday at least 2,500 hectares of pineforest have gone up in smoke in the Mount Parnithia National Park, in thenorthwest suburbs of Athens, one of the last big green spaces near thisdensely-populated, polluted city.

Nationwide firemen were also fighting to put out the last pockets of fire oftwo major blazes in Thassalia in central Greece, and in the popular touristdestination of Pelion in the northeast of the country.

“The situation is good, but we have yet to totally control thefire,” the spokesman said.

At least 3,000 hectares or “around 10 percent of the woodland” hadbeen destroyed by the flames around Mount Pelion, a top regional official said.

A 21-year-old Greek man was being questioned Sunday after his arrestovernight on suspicion of having started two forest fires, which were rapidlybrought under control in the northwest Peloponnese, police said.

The fire service spokeswoman said there were no other major fires causingconcern on Sunday, even though they were regularly putting out dozens of firesin their early stages across the country.

Since June 19 Greecehas been in the grips of an exceptionally long heatwave, with temperaturesexceeding 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), which have been blamed for atleast 12 deaths.


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