Wildfire rages on Greek island of Evia, smoke reaches Athens

Wildfire rages on Greek island of Evia, smoke reaches Athens

Wildfire rages on Greek island of Evia, smoke reaches Athens

Hundreds of firefighters battled wildfires in Greece Tuesday, with the largest burning through a thickly forested nature reserve on the island of Evia north of Athens where three villages have been evacuated.

The four villages on the island were being evacuated protectively, a fire brigade official said.

The country's civil protection authority declared a state of emergency in the area of Evia affected by the fire, where about 280 firefighters, volunteers, soldiers, six water-dropping planes and six helicopters were deployed, along with one more helicopter coordinating the air support.

The PM acknowledged that the country's fire crews had had a gruelling five-day stretch, with the fire department noting that 56 fires had broken out over the past 24 hours alone.

The winds blew the smoke from the blazing pine forest north toward the Magnesia region and south to the Attica peninsula and Athens. At least two houses were burned but there were no reports of injuries. "As I was leaving, the fire was coming behind us".

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Mitsotakis added that four Canadair fire-fighting planes from Croatia and Italy would be deployed today after Greece requested European Union assistance.

Dozens more firefighters were tackling a forest fire on the northern island of Thassos.

According to local media, the fire service was alerted after 3:00 am local time of a fire in the area of Agrilitsa, in the municipality of Dirfys-Messapia, and sent 80 firefighters with 39 fire engines to the area, assisted by aircrafts and helicopters.

Smoke from the fire blanketed the Greek capital in the morning. A third wildfire was burning through brush and dried weeds near Thebes, northwest of Athens.

Greece often faces wildfires during its dry summer months, and authorities have warned of the high risk of blazes this week. In 2007 devastating fires killed 65, scorched thousands of hectares of forest and farmland and threatened archaeological sites.

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