Forest fire rages north of Athens

Forest fire rages north of Athens

16 July 2008

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Greece — Greek firefighters struggled Tuesday to contain a major forest fire that broke out northwest of Athens and was being fanned by strong winds, the fire service said.

More than 280 firefighters and 51 trucks were battling the blaze near Beotie, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the capital. They were being helped by 11 planes and three helicopters.

The flames have not endangered any built-up areas apart from the village of Panakton and a monastery, but firefighters succeeded in heading off the danger.

By early evening the fire was burning on two fronts in the Oinoi region.

Wildfires are a major concern in Greece every summer.

In August 2007, 77 people died in fires that ravaged the Peloponnese peninsula and the island of Evia, destroying 270,000 hectares (666,000 acres) of forest and farm land.

This year the risk is once again high due to a lack of rain and high temperatures.

At the weekend, a fire on the Aegean island of Skyros destroyed around 600 hectares (nearly 1,500 acres) of pine trees.

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