Firefighters battle to contain wildfire near Athens

  Firefighters battle to contain wildfire near Athens

21 August 2009

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Greece — Firefighters on Friday battled to contain an out-of-control wildfire near the Greek capital for the second straight day, sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes.

Hundreds of firefighters assisted by two firefighting planes and and three helicopters attempted to put out the fire throughout the night just west of Athens near the industrial area of Magoula and Elefsina while strong winds fanned the blaze.

The fire had quickly spread from a forested mountain in the area of Magoula to an industrial site, burning factories and warehouses.

Residents, armed with buckets and hoses, were seen trying to put out the flames all night while extra reinforcements were called in from northern Greece to help prevent the fire from spreading to Mount Parnitha.

In the last 24 hours more than 100 forest fires were reported to have broken out across the country.

Blazes, fanned by high temperatures and strong winds, were reported to be burning out of control on the Ionian island of Zakynthos as well as the western Peloponnese prefecture of Hlias and Megaloupolis.

On Thursday, another forest fire in central Greece near the town of Astakos damaged at least a dozen homes.

Forest fires have become more frequent in Greece in recent summers, triggered by high temperatures and drought, but also arson.

Greece declared a state of emergency in 2007 during 10 days of blazes that killed more than 80 people on the island of Evia and the western Peloponnese.

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