Greek forest fire threatens munitions factory

Greek forest fire threatens munitions factory

15 July 2008

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Greece — More than 50 fire engines and 11 planes battled a large forest fire near the Greek capital Athens on Tuesday, as high winds threatened to drive the blaze towards a munitions dump, authorities said.

Some 280 fire fighters and three helicopters struggled to control the flames near the village of Inoi in the Parnitha mountains, 35 km (20 miles) northwest of Athens.

The range, one of the last woodland areas in the Attica region surrounding Athens, was severely scorched last year when Greece was gripped by the worst wildfires for decades, which killed 65 people.

“The fire is uncontrolled. It is big,” an official at Greece’s fire service headquarters in Athens said. “We don’t have any reports of injuries or damage to houses.”

The mayor of the Dervenohoria municipality, which groups Inoi and five other villages, said that more than a dozen fire engines were dousing the nearby ammunition factory and the surrounding area with water.

With gusting winds, Mayor Panagiotides Kleanthis told Reuters a change in their direction could worsen the situation.

It was the latest of several fires to hit Greece so far this year as summer temperatures soar toward the record levels seen in 2007. Last year’s 10-day inferno which swept through southern Greece in August was blamed on the high temperatures, drought and arson.

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