Home WORLD NEWS Photos: Hundreds evacuated as wildfire spreads near Athens

Photos: Hundreds evacuated as wildfire spreads near Athens

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A man looks on as the flames approach his house in Penteli,

A man looks on as the flames approach his house in Penteli. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Published On 20 Jul 2022

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as a wildfire threatened mountainside suburbs northeast of Greece’s capital, Athens.

Firefighters battled through the night, struggling to contain the blaze which was being intensified by strong gusts of wind.

The Hellenic Fire Service said on Tuesday 15 planes and nine helicopters were involved in the firefighting effort on the slopes of Mount Penteli, 25km (16 miles) northeast of Athens, before being grounded at nightfall.

Police officers and firefighters carried elderly residents out of their homes to safety as the flames approached.

Huge clouds of smoke from the blaze were visible in central Athens.

Local officials said homes had been burned or damaged but there were no reports of injuries or stranded people. A children’s hospital in the area was also evacuated, officials said.

Greece has been spared the heatwave conditions currently plaguing countries in Western Europe, but fire officials say that hot and dry conditions persisting for weeks as well as longer-term temperature rises have increased the overall risk of forest fires.

More than 130,000 hectares (321,240 acres) of land was damaged by wildfires in Greece last year, the worst damage recorded since 2007.

Fire Service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said four separate evacuation orders had been issued on Tuesday, with push alerts sent to mobile phones in the affected areas.

“It’s been a tough day,” the spokesman said, adding that more than 400 firefighters had been deployed. Some 300 police officers were also on duty to enforce traffic bans and patrol evacuated areas to prevent looting, officials said.

Evangelos Bournous, mayor of Rafina, a town near the fire, said firefighters were trying to protect property until planes and helicopters could again be used at first light.

“The flames get between the hills and form a tunnel of fire. That’s very difficult to stop and it’s not affected by the wind,” Bournous told state-run television. “At night-time, it’s essentially an uncontrollable situation.”

A firefighter sprays water in the Mount of Penteli

Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze, intensified by strong gusts of wind. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

A firefighter pulls a hose as the fire burns near a house at Mount Penteli

A firefighter works to put out a fire burning near a house at Mount Penteli, 25km (16 miles) northeast of Athens. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Firefighters and policemen evacuate an elderly woman from her house in Penteli

Hundreds of people were ordered to leave their homes. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Fire burns at the mount of Penteli

The Fire Service said 15 planes and nine helicopters were involved in the firefighting effort on the slopes of Mount Penteli. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Fire burns at the mount of Penteli,

Local officials said homes had been burned or damaged, but there were no reports of injuries or stranded people. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Firefighters evacuate an elderly woman from her house in Penteli,

Firefighters evacuate an elderly woman from her house in Penteli. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Fire burns at the mount of Penteli

A Fire Service spokesperson said more than 400 firefighters had been deployed to contain the wildfire. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP Photo]

Smoke from a fire blanketed part of the Athenian sky as it is seen behind the ancient Acropolis hill with the Parthenon temple

Huge clouds of smoke from the blaze were visible in central Athens. [Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

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