A forest fire is raging near Athens;  home injured, hospital evacuated

A forest fire is raging near Athens; home injured, hospital evacuated

ATHENS – A forest fire driven by storm winds raged in the mountainous region of Penteli near Athens on Wednesday morning, burning home and prompting authorities to order the evacuation of at least nine areas and a hospital.

Thick clouds of smoke darkened the sky over the Penteli mountain where the fire broke out around 2.30 pm local time on Tuesday, around 260 km north of downtown Athens.

No injuries have been reported, the fire service states.

Around 485 firefighters and 120 fire engines were deployed to try to contain the fire, which burned on several fronts. More than seven helicopters and planes dumped water on the flames, even though they had stopped operations during the night for safety reasons.

aten fire
The fire brigade evacuated an elderly woman from her home, among other residents who were threatened by the forest fire.
AP

“It was a difficult night,” Fire Department spokesman Yiannis Artopios said in a television statement, adding that the wind speed exceeded 50 miles per hour.

“Because of the intensity and speed of the winds, the fire constantly changed direction throughout the night, making it even harder to fight it in the middle of the night,” he said.

Local authorities said the fire had burned some homes in the Pallini area. The fire service will not confirm the information.

forest fire in Athens
The fire constantly changed direction throughout the night due to the high speed and intensity of the wind, which made it very difficult to fight and limit.
AFP via Getty Images

Authorities had ordered the evacuation of nine areas, including Pallini and Gerakas.

One hospital and the National Observatory in Athens had been evacuated as a precaution. Traffic was stopped on the roads leading to Penteli, and police helped at least 600 residents find their way out of the fire-affected areas.

Strong winds were forecast for Wednesday afternoon.

fire in Athens
Nine areas, including Pallini and Gerakas, were evacuated by authorities.
AP

The fire brigade said that 28 firefighters from Romania helped local firefighters. More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece.

Last year, forest fires ravaged around 300,000 hectares of forest and shrub in different parts of Greece when the country experienced its worst heat wave in 30 years.

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