A firefighting helicopter throws water near the village of Krestena south of Ancient Olympia, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Athens, as authorities evacuate urgently another five villages in the area, on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (Giannis Spyrounis/ilialive.gr via AP)
ATHENS — Α major fire has broken out in southern Greece, burning homes in villages not far from the famous archaeological site of Ancient Olympia and prompting the evacuations of six villages.
The fire broke out Sunday afternoon near the villages of Krestena and Skillountia, which are south and southeast of Ancient Olympia. Authorities messaged residents there and in four other villages to evacuate quickly.
Fire Service spokesman Yannis Artopoios said 125 firefighters and 43 fire engines were operating in the area, as well as four planes and four helicopters, but the aircraft can’t operate at night. On a positive note, the prevailing northwesterly winds were pushing the fire to the southeast, up a mountain and away from Ancient Olympia, authorities said.
At least six more significant fires were burning across the country Sunday, according to the fire service, with three of those burning for several days. Artopoios said 141 wildfires had started in Greece over the past three days.
The fire on the Greek island of Lesbos, which required the evacuation of over 450 tourists and locals Saturday, is slowly being controlled, with only scattered blazes late Sunday afternoon, local authorities said.
But two fires still threaten Greek nature reserves, one in the northeastern region of Thrace, close to the Turkish border, and another in the region of Western Macedonia.
Three other fires erupted Sunday, one in Western Macedonia, another in central Greece and the third on the island of Crete.
In the Dadia Forest, which hosts a number of rare bird species, firefighters and aid workers rescued injured animals and took them in for treatment. Late Sunday that blaze expanded again, forcing residents of the village of Dadia to evacuate for the second time in three days.
Hot and dry conditions, along with gusty winds, have prevailed for weeks in Greece. A heat wave that arrived Saturday pushed temperature past 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places. The heat is expected to persist for several days.
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