Fire rages on in Greece, threat to people averted but Athens covered in smoke

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Greek authorities warned Athens citizens, especially the elderly and infirm, to protect themselves from the smoke caused by wildfires raging on Evia Island. The thick, grey pall of smoke is now blanketing the entire region of Attica.

The general secretariat of Greece’s Civil Protection authority issued an urgent announcement warning of the dangers of breathing in the smoke and advised vulnerable individuals to stay at home and use their air conditioning to clean the air.

Aircraft sprayed water early on Wednesday in a bid to douse the flames of a huge wildfire on the Greek island of Evia that had prompted the evacuation of villages and spurred an appeal from authorities for assistance from European partners.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis interrupted his vacation and returned to Greece to visit the fire department’s operations centre amid massive wildfires that have broken out in the country, the government’s press service announced.

Haze over Athens after wildfires
Tourists take photos as the Parthenon temple sits atop the Acropolis hill amidst thick smoke from a wildfire burning at the island of Evia some 70 km north of Athens, Greece. EPA-EFE/KOSTAS TSIRONIS

On Saturday, the prime minister travelled to the city of Chania in Crete for a short vacation, where he had planned to stay until August 15.

The Greek authorities declared a “red” wildfire alert on August 10 over the 40-degree Celsius heat and strong winds. Despite all measures of prevention, 59 wildfires broke out on Saturday, with 63 more recorded on Sunday.

Massive wildfire in central Euboea
A massive wildfire in central Euboea, in the municipality of Dirfys-Messapia burning houses around the village of Makrymallis, Greece, early 14 July 2019. EPA-EFE/WASSILIS ASWESTOPOULOS

On Tuesday, a strong fire began on the island of Euboea. The smoke covered Athens, which is located about 70 kilometres south. Residents of three villages were evacuated. Fire also engulfed the pine forest included in the Natura 200 reserve, the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world.

The fires continue to spread despite a constant increase in the firefighting force. So far, 230 firefighters, 75 vehicles, 6 aircraft and 5 helicopters have been sent to the site.

Via Greek Reporter/Reuters/ Euronews

 

 

 

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