Fires in Greece: New fires burning outside Athens


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More fires broke out in hard-hit Greece, and two fires triggered the evacuation of villages southeast and northwest of Athens, the Greek capital.

The first fire, which broke out in the morning in the region of Keratea southeast of Athens, quickly burned through the bushes and headed towards the national park in the area of ​​Sounion.

Three communities in the area were ordered to evacuate. Some residents desperately buried their homes, hoping to save them from the oncoming flames, while volunteers armed with hoses and branches got involved in the firefight. The fire service sent 91 firefighters, six planes releasing water and six helicopters.

Dimitris Loukas, the mayor of the Lavreiotiki region, which covers the area where the fire broke out, told Greek television that the cause was suspected to be a fire. He said local residents reported seeing someone in the car set fire to a container in the area before they drove away quickly. Loukas said authorities are considering the reports.

On the other side of the capital, in the northwest, another fire broke out in the Vilia area, which caused an evacuation warning for three other villages. Strong winds are predicted to last at least until the evening, which could potentially hamper firefighting efforts.

More than 60 firefighters backed eight planes dropping water and five helicopters.

Greece has been rocked by hundreds of forest fires this month, and the fires followed the country’s biggest heat wave in decades, causing its forests to dry up completely.

Tens of thousands of hectares of forests and agricultural land were destroyed, houses and businesses were burned, and thousands of people had to be evacuated by land or sea. One volunteer firefighter was killed and four other firefighters were hospitalized, including two in critical condition with burns.

The fires have pushed Greece to the limits of its ability to respond, prompting the government to seek international assistance. About 24 European and Middle Eastern countries have sent firefighters, helicopters, planes and vehicles. By Monday, most of them had left, although 40 Austrian firefighters remained in the southern Greek region of the Peloponnese, where two large fires have been burning for several days.

Several Mediterranean countries have suffered severe heat and fires have spread rapidly in recent weeks, including Turkey, which killed at least 16 people, and Italy, which has recorded several deaths. At least 69 people have been killed in fires in the Berber mountain region in Algeria.

Worsening drought and heat have also sparked fires this summer in the western United States and in the northern Siberian region of Russia. About 15 million hectares have been burned in the whole of Russia this year.

Scientists say there is no doubt that climate change due to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is causing more extreme weather conditions.

Two large fires that began in early August, one on the island of Evia and the other in a national park north of Athens, were still smoldering on Monday, and firefighters were deployed to secure their scope.

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Follow all AP stories on climate change development at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-change

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