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Dozens of Wildfires Break Out Across Greece, Firefighters Scramble

ATHENS – It’s starting to look like the summer of 2021 in Greece again with 52 wildfires breaking out in less than a day – at least one suspicious – with the New Democracy government having built up a bulwark to deal with them.

A major blaze was burning uncontrollably across three fronts near the town of Amfissa, in the municipality of Delphi, central Greece, the Fire Service said, buffeted by strong winds and destroying olive trees as it moved toward the coastal town of Itea.

A convent was evacuated and firefighters were trying to keep the flames from reaching a forest, the effort hindered by the winds, Delfi Mayor Panagiotis Tagalis told the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.

There were some 50 firefighters with 15 fire engines and three ground teams being assisted by fiuve water-bombing aircraft, as well as municipal water tanks to prevent the conflagration from getting out of control.

A text message via the 112 European emergency alert number was sent to residents in the northern part of Itea in the Fokis region to be on standby for evacuation instructions if needed.

Fire Service spokesperson Yiannis Artopoios said firefighters, aided by volunteers and local government workers, battled a forest blaze that broke out in the Portes area in Achaea region in the western Peloponnese.

Strong winds and high temperatures for July 5 means the fire risk remains very high in Attica, Central Greece, Western Greece, the Peloponnese and the eastern Aegean islands, he said, urging the public to remain vigilant and avoid all careless and negligent activity.

An easing of winds overnight helped the Greek Fire Service contain several blazes in different parts of the country, with firefighters still operating in Fokida and the Peloponnese, often a scene of major blazes.

Another big blaze, in the foothills of Mount Parnassos in Fokida, continued on July 5 to burn through a major olive grove before breaking up into multiple fronts and it headed toward the sea, said Kathimerini.

“We were helped overnight by the winds dying down, though we are concerned about the front from Itea to Agia Evfimia,” the Deputy Regional Governor of Fokida, Giorgos Delmouzos, told the paper.

In another part of the Peloponnese, in Ilia on the west, firefighters had to deal with a fire that started July 3 in neighboring Achaia and spread across the prefecture’s borders, creating another risk.

Another fire on Mount Athos was reportedly contained on July 5, the day shaping up to be difficult again with high temperatures and the wind expected to remain brisk and present a challenge.

While fires in Greece have often been the result of arson, no causes were given after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2021 blamed outbreaks on sizzling heat and climate change.

Residents and visitors now were advised not to have barbeques or bonfires, to clear up up litter after having picnics and keep gardens and fields clear of underbrush, fallen branches and other incendiary debris, the report also said.

 

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