Flames swept through a residential town outside Athens overnight as forest fires burned down in Greece on Saturday for a fifth day, and hundreds of people were evacuated by ferry from the island of Evia east of the capital.
The Mount Parnitha fire on the outskirts of Athens has forced the evacuation of thousands since Thursday evening, with emergency teams facing high winds and temperatures as they fight to contain its spread .
Forest fires have broken out in many parts of the country amid Greece’s worst heat wave in more than 30 years, tearing apart tens of thousands of hectares of forests, destroying homes and businesses and killing animals.
Temperatures across Greece have been topping 40C (104F) all week.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, speaking after visiting the main fire control center in Athens on Saturday, called the “summer a nightmare”, adding that the government’s priority “has been, above all, to protect human lives. “.
The government was planning to reimburse those affected by the fires and would designate the burnt lands as reforestation areas, he said.
More than 700 firefighters, including Cypriot, French and Israeli reinforcements, were deployed to fight the blaze north of Athens, assisted by the army and water bombers.
Overnight, high winds pushed the blaze into the town of Thrakomakedones, where it burned down houses. Residents were ordered to evacuate and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
“[It’s] really bad, ”said Thanasis Kaloudis, a town resident. “All of Greece has burned down.
No more evacuations
The fires on Euboea, Greece’s second largest island, are scattered across the Gulf of Euboea, facing the Aegean Sea.
On Friday evening, hundreds of people, including many elderly residents, were evacuated by ferry from the town of Limni on Evia as flames reached the shore and the sky turned apocalyptic red.
Authorities have fought more than 400 forest fires across Greece in the past 24 hours, with the largest fronts still burning in northern Athens, Evia and parts of the Peloponnese including Mani, Messinia and the ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games.
A man died Friday after being injured by an electricity pylon in a burnt-out area near Athens, and at least nine others were injured, authorities said.
Residents of the northern suburbs of Athens were forced to leave in a hurry with the few belongings they can take.
“Our business, our house, all our belongings are there. I hope they don’t burn, ”said Yorgos Papaioannou, 26, on Friday, sitting in a parking lot with his girlfriend as ashes fell around them from the smoke-filled sky.
He had left the town of Polydendri when the police ordered him and his girlfriend to leave.
In neighboring Turkey, authorities are fighting the country’s worst forest fires.
Flames sweeping through its southwestern coastal regions forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
In Italy, hot winds have fanned the flames on the island of Sicily this week. Two people died from smoke inhalation in the town of San Lorenzo, Calabria, on Friday.
According to the riflemen, the Italian military police, a woman and her male nephew were trying to put out the flames in their olive grove.
A total of 57 fires hit Calabria yesterday. Eleven of them were dangerously close to small towns, including San Lorenzo.