Fire threatens Athens’ hillside suburbs for second day

Nearly 500 firefighters were struggling to contain a massive wildfire that threatened hillside suburbs outside Athens for a second day, after hundreds of residents were evacuated overnight.

At least two people were hospitalized with shortness of breath and minor burns, while local officials said several homes were burned in fires around Mount Penteli, 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the Greek capital. ) to the northeast.

A firefighter stands in front of two burned cars in the Panorama Palinis area, east of Athens (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP) (AP)

“The conditions are very challenging. The top priority is to protect human lives, critical infrastructure and private property,” said fire agency spokesman Yiannis Artopios.

He said winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour (50mph) were making it difficult to provide air support for fire crews.

Greece has avoided the heat wave now affecting Western European countries, but fire officials say weeks of dry heat, as well as longer-lasting increases in temperatures, have caused increase the risk of forest fires in general.

Five water-dropping planes and four helicopters were operational Wednesday at the fire north of Athens, officials said, adding that more than 600 people had been evacuated from their homes so far, officials said. now.

A fire-fighting helicopter throws water as fires burn in the Drafi area, east of Athens (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP) (AP)

More than 1,300 square kilometers (500 square miles) of land was damaged by wildfires in Greece last year, the heaviest damage recorded since 2007.

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