Greek Firefighters Battle Major Wildfires Near Athens

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Over 100 firefighters assisted by 18 water-dropping aircrafts and helicopters were battling the front.

On Sunday, one person lost his life during a wildfire raging at Stamata, a northern suburb of Athens. The victim was a 45-year-old man who suffered a heart attack as flames reached his home. He was transferred to a local healthcare center but lost the battle.

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Meanwhile, more than 100 firefighters assisted by 18 water-dropping aircrafts and helicopters were battling the front which extends to about 1.5 kilometers. They warned residents of nearby areas to be on alert and diverted traffic.

Four settlements and a summer camp for children were evacuated, as strong winds hampered firefighting efforts. “We ask our fellow citizens to follow closely the instructions,” said Nikos Hardalias, governor of Attica region.

A still unclear number of houses and cars has been burnt during the blaze raging in Lavreotiki municipality in southeastern Attica region, some 40 kilometers from Athens. Police helped move to safety 52 people, as six settlements were evacuated here.

More than 140 firefighters were dispatched to the area assisted by 17 water-dropping aircrafts and helicopters. Strong winds up to nine on the Beaufort scale were blowing in the area, making more difficult efforts to extinguish the blaze.

Firefighters are battling a series of wildfires near the Greek capital Athens as the country faces a tough wildfire season. #Greece #Wildfires #Athens #WorldNews pic.twitter.com/O6XGCZWabv

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Firefighters were trying to contain the flames before they reached the nearby Sounion National Park, which was affected during major wildfires in 2012 and 2021 and currently efforts to regenerate it are underway.

The smoke from the fires in Attica reached the island of Crete about 200 kilometers to the south, Kostas Lagouvardos, research director at the Institute for Environmental Research of the National Observatory of Athens, posted on social media, citing satellite images.

Another major wildfire was raging at Ritsona, a mixed residential and industrial zone, of the region of Evia, about 70 kilometers northwest of Athens. Dozens of firefighters were battling flames as authorities warned of the increased risk due to the inflammable materials inside factories near the blaze. An alert has been issued for residents of settlements also in this case as well as for a refugee camp.

On Saturday a total of 54 wildfires broke out nationwide, according to the fire brigade. Since the start of the wildfire season on May 1, firefighters are called to handle dozens of wildfires every day across the country.

Greece suffers from many wildfires every summer due to high temperatures, heatwaves linked to climate change and arsonists. Due to unusually high temperatures in spring and June, the risk will be high this summer.

“The difficult days are still ahead of us,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted on social media on Sunday. Wildfire prevention and the operation of the mechanism to address them is expected to be on the agenda of Monday’s cabinet meeting. 

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