Forest fire rages near Athens, burns homes


Houses are threatened by a fire that broke out in the village of Kaletzi, north of Athens, on Saturday.  AFP

Fanned by strong winds, the fire broke out late on Friday in the village of Grammatiko, about 40 km northeast of the Greek capital, and spread to residential areas overnight, the fire brigade said.

Nine aircraft, five helicopters, 35 fire engines and 151 firefighters with 20 water tanks were deployed to battle the flames.
Residents with hoses, shovels and buckets of water were also trying to save their properties, a witness said.

At least eight homes were seriously damaged by the fire, a police source said.

“It is a very difficult fire because it rages in a mixed zone of residential areas and forest land,” Greek fire brigade spokesman Giannis Kapakis told reporters. He urged the people to promptly evacuate the areas on fire to avoid risking their lives and to help the fire brigade’s efforts.

Another fire raged on the island of Zakynthos, in western Greece, though without threatening homes, the fire brigade said. Two airplanes and four helicopters along with 18 fire engines and 46 firefighters were deployed on that front.
Wildfires are frequent in Greece during the summer, often caused by high temperatures, drought or arson.

Hundreds of fires raged across southern Europe in July, destroying thousands of hectares of forest and gutting dozens of homes.

Greece saw its deadliest wildfires in memory in 2007, when blazes on the island of Evia and the southern Peloponnese peninsula raged for more than 10 days, killing 65 people.

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