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Greece on high alert as wildfires reach suburbs of Athens

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Athens (dpa) – Firefighters in Greece were unable to contain a giant fire that reached the northern suburbs of the capital Athens on Tuesday. The fire is now burning in the suburbs of Varybobi and Acharnes, forcing thousands to flee. 

“Leave your homes immediately,” the mayor of Acharnes, Spyros Vrettos, told state television. Residents of the region also received a warning by text message from the Civil Defence. Thick clouds of smoke were visible from all over Athens.

Residents of the affected neighbourhoods left their homes in panic. “Behind us is hell,” one resident shouted from his car to reporters on the scene.

The fire was spreading rapidly from the nearby forests to inhabited areas, the region’s governor Giorgos Patoulis announced, calling on all people to leave the area immediately.

Meteorologists have for days been warning that fires of this magnitude could break out, as the country remains in the grip of a heatwave that is not expected to let up all week, with temperatures climbing above 40 degrees Celsius.

Elsewhere in the country firefighters are battling a major blaze on the island of Rhodes, which has already forced residents of several communities to flee.

Authorities have warned the public that the risk of fire will remain very high even after the end of the heatwave due to the country’s ongoing drought, and the forecast high winds.

dpa

Photo  A fireman, standing among beehives, battles to extinguish a wildfire in the area of Varybobi, northeastern suburb of Athens, Greece, 03 August 2021. The wildfire that broke out in a forest in the Varybobi area on August 3rd spread quickly due to the dry conditions, despite the lack of strong winds and the efforts of fire-fighting forces to contain it quickly. There are 350 fire-fighters with 70 vehicles, 10 teams of fire fighters on foot and five helicopters and five aircrafts, including a Beriev 200, deployed to put out the fire. The police have stopped the movement of vehicles on the Tatoiou Road between Kymis Avenue and Erithrea Road, on Erithrea Road between the Varybobi bridge and on Tatoiou from Parnithos Road (Ippokratios Politia). EPA-EFE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU