BFF-14 Strong winds fan major wildfire on Greek island near Athens

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ZCZC

BFF-14

GREECE-FIRE

Strong winds fan major wildfire on Greek island near Athens

ATHENS, Aug 13, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Dozens of firefighters Tuesday battled a
major wildfire that forced the evacuation of a monastery on the Greek island
of Evia as smoke from the blaze reached as far as Athens, authorities said.

Authorities also placed on alert two villages threatened by the blaze on
the island, Greece’s second largest after Crete and located northeast of
Athens.

The fire started at about 3 am (0000 GMT) at the side of a road and was
quickly spread by strong winds through the dry and dense vegetation in the
centre of the island, the semi-official news agency ANA said.

The monastery of Panagia Makrymallis was evacuated as a precaution and
residents of the villages of Kontodespoti and Stavros were told to be ready
to leave also, TV SKAI said.

“Everything is ready in case it is necessary to evacuate the villages. The
evacuation can be done in a few minutes. We are totally prepared,” Fani
Spanos, the governor of central Greece who was coordinating the operations,
told SKAI.

He warned the fire was not yet under control and was spreading in an area
that was inaccessible overland.

Around 80 firefighters were fighting the blaze backed by some 40 fire
trucks and two water-bombing helicopters and a plane.

The strong winds blew the smoke from the blazing pine forest north toward
the Magnesia region and south to the Attica peninsula and Athens.

ANA said the pine forests on Evia are part of the “Natura 2000” European
network of protected areas and habitats.

Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend amid gale-
force winds and temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).

On Monday, a major forest fire threatening homes in Peania, an eastern
suburb of Athens, was brought under control. At least two houses were burned
but there were no reports of injuries.

On Sunday, a fire on the small island of Elafonissos, in the Peloponnese
region, was brought under control after a two-day battle.

Two more fires were doused on Saturday in Marathon, close to Mati, the
coastal resort where last year 102 people died in Greece’s worst fire
disaster.

BSS/AFP/SSS/1640 hrs