Wildfire rages near Athens, threatens homes

Wildfire rages near Athens, threatens homes

15 June 2009

published by www.reuters.com

Greece —

A wildfire raged uncontrolled through forest land in the outskirts of Athens, threatening homes and power lines, a fire brigade official said on Monday.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire which quickly spread across the slopes of Mount Hymettus which overlooks the Greek capital, sending thick clouds of smoke over the city.

“The fire is burning near homes, but only low vegetation and rubbish are in flames at this point,” said a fire brigade official who declined to be named.

More than 100 fire-fighters were battling the flames while eight aircraft and two helicopters dropped tonnes of water to drown the blaze, which raged unabated for more than three hours.

Residents evacuated their homes, while volunteers with hoses and tree branches were struggling to put out the fire, a Reuters witness said.

Forest fires caused by high temperatures, drought and arsonists are frequent in Greece during the summer season.

Greece saw some of the deadliest forest fires in living memory in 2007, when they swept through dozens of villages in southern Greece, during a 10-day inferno which brought the country to a state of emergency.

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