Greece: Large forest blaze forces evacuations west of Athens

July 5, 2022 GMT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek firefighters battled a large forest blaze that forced the evacuation of a small village west of Athens, the latest in a series of wildfires that flared as strong winds swept several parts of Greece.

By evening, the fire service said the blaze appeared to be spreading at a much slower pace, raising hopes it could be soon contained.

More than 130 firefighters and volunteers, assisted by 10 water-dropping aircraft, were battling the fire that broke out around noon Tuesday near the seaside town of Porto Germeno, 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Athens.

As a precaution, the village of Mytikas was ordered evacuated, but there were no reports of injuries. Greek news reports said one uninhabited house was damaged.

Authorities said the strong wind, which kept shifting direction, was hampering the firefighting effort. The weather service said the wind was expected to slacken in the evening.

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Fire service personnel was on a high alert on several parts of the country Tuesday, amid a forecast major risk of wildfires. Two other blazes were burning in the southern Peloponnese region. The fire service said it had dealt with more than 300 forest fires over the past week — 65 of them in the past 24 hours.

Early Tuesday, firefighters were able to bring under control a major blaze that threatened a large area of olive groves close to the town of Itea, in the plain under the ancient site of Delphi in central Greece and forced some home evacuations. About 300 hectares (740 acres) of the roughly 5,500-hectare (13,600-acre) olive-planted area were burnt. The ancient site was in no danger.

Also, a fire Monday forced the evacuation by sea of 73 hotel residents from a beach close to Kranidi in the northeastern Peloponnese. No injuries were reported.

Greece suffers destructive wildfires every summer. In 2018, more than 100 people died in a blaze at the Mati seaside resort east of Athens. Since then, authorities have focused on swift, precautionary evacuations of inhabited areas under threat.