Tuesday, 16 August, 2022

Athens wildfire losing intensity, firefighters say

A wildfire whipped up by gale-force winds in a southern suburb of Athens on Saturday, forcing residents to evacuate and damaging properties, has faded in intensity as the winds have dropped, the fire brigade said on Sunday.

A total of 283 firefighters in 65 vehicles, with the help of groups of bystanders, had battled overnight to bring the fire under control.

And two firefighting planes and two helicopters were still in operation early Sunday.

On Saturday, the Greek Civil Protection agency had issued an emergency appeal via SMS for people to leave the suburb of Ano Voula.

Officials reported no casualties, but four more neighbourhoods were evacuated as the wind changed direction and drove the fire front towards the town of Vari later on Saturday evening.

Giorgos Papanikolaou, the mayor of Glyfada, where the fire first broke out, said that it started at a high voltage electricity power station.

Last summer, Greece's most severe heatwave in decades, which authorities blamed on climate change, saw fires destroy more than 100,000 hectares of forest and farmland, the country's worst wildfire damage since 2007.

More than 200 firefighters and technical equipment provided by European Union countries will be soon deployed to Greece to help boost the battle against large wildfires.

Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Norway will take part in the deployment, coordinated by the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.