Major fire on eastern Greek island of Chios - Updated
Special to The National Herald
In this Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 photo local residents and firefighting volunteers are seen holding makeshift fire beaters as a large forest blaze looms on the Greek eastern Aegean Sea island of Chios. Hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and volunteers were struggling for a third day Monday to tame a massive fire that burnt some 7,000 hectares of forest, cultivated land and groves of the island's famed mastic trees. Smoke from the blaze, which was swept on by gale-force winds, was carried as far as the southern island of Crete, more than 350 kilometers (230 miles) away.
Gale-force winds were hampering efforts by about 360 firefighters, soldiers and volunteers, as well as firefighting planes, helicopters and 50 vehicles. Residents of nine villages and hamlets evacuated their homes over the weekend as a precaution.
The blaze broke out shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday morning and authorities said that by Monday it had destroyed about 7,000 hectares (16,000 acres) of forest and farmland. Smoke from the fire carried across the Aegean as far as the southern island of Crete, more than 350 kilometers (230 miles) away.
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