Wildfire near Athens forces evacuation of seaside resorts


Published: 2023-07-17 21:48

Last Updated: 2024-07-04 10:05

Wildfire near Athens forces evacuation of seaside resorts
Wildfire near Athens forces evacuation of seaside resorts

A wildfire broke out near Athens on Monday as a heatwave grips the country, firefighters said, with several seaside resorts ordered to evacuate as a precaution.

The blaze started in Kouvaras, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Athens. "It's a difficult fire, the winds are really strong" with gusts reaching up to 60 kilometres (37 miles) per hour," said Yannis Artopios, a firefighters' spokesman.

Greece, along with Italy and Spain, has been gripped by a heatwave since last week, with temperatures reaching 44C (111 Fahrenheit) in the centre of the country.

Seven water-bombing aircraft, four helicopters and 150 firemen backed by 30 colleagues from Romania were fighting the flames on two fronts, local media reported

The blaze burnt quickly through brush and spread south toward the Attica region and the resorts of Lagonissi, Anavyssos and Saronida.

Thick smoke blocked traffic on the roads around Kalyvia.

The authorities told residents to leave the area and monks were evacuated from a local monastery.

The domestic press agency ANA said a forest fire had also flared in strong winds near the Isthmus of Corinth close to the popular beach town of Loutraki.
Precautionary evacuations were ordered at Loutraki too, ANA said.

In Athens, where the mercury hit 39C on Saturday, the Acropolis, one of Greece's top tourist attractions, closed during the hottest hours for three consecutive days to Sunday.

Temperatures are forecast to drop in Greece some 2C-4C by Wednesday, with a new heatwave to follow from Thursday and local highs of 43C, according to the EMY national weather service.

"We are in the middle of the period of fighting fires and the conditions expected will be particularly difficult and favour forest fires," said Artopios.