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Hardalias: 56 Fires Now Burning in Greece, Conditions “Extremely Dangerous”

ATHENS — There were 56 fires in progress throughout Greece, Deputy Civil Protection and Crises Management Minister Nikos Hardalias reported on Friday afternoon, during an emergency press briefing on the wildfires sweeping the country.

The worst of these fires were those in Attica, Evia, Messinia, Eastern Mani, Tolofonas in Fokida, Grevena and Ilia where a new front had also started in Ancient Olympia, he said.

Regarding the fires in Attica, he said the forest fire that began on Thursday in the Vasilika area in Parnitha was still burning on several fronts and in a number of locations, having managed to cross the barrier formed by the national highway shortly after midnight. He reported blazes in Afidnes, Ippokratio Politia and at Agios Stefanos moving toward Marathon Lake, causing damage to homes and businesses.

He said fire-fighting efforts were currently focused on putting out fires in houses and businesses, especially along the side road along the national highway, and to protect critical infrastructure.

"Up until now, via the 112 number, we have sent 13 messages for the evacuation of settlements and instructions for the safety of residences. There are 450 fire-fighters, 40 ground teams and 150 vehicles operating. In Attica, we have had a gradual strengthening of westerly winds with gusts that are expected to reach 6 Beaufort over the next hours. The fire has already got through toward Marathon Lake with a very high thermal load and we are making a titanic effort to cut it off," he said.

Regarding the forest fire in north Evia, Hardalias said that a very large front was advancing and 240 fire-fighters were operating there, while the fire-fighting aircraft were being reinforced.

"The fire has grown dangerously and is moving in various directions in the steep slopes of the mountains of northern Evia. In Evia the winds are mainly northwesterly, with gusts of up to 6 Beaufort. Our main aim is to cut off the front in its southern course," he said.

Regarding the fire in Ancient Olympia, the minister reported a new front in an area of forest and said that 310 fire-fighters have been deployed to contain the blaze, while 32 settlements were evacuated via the 112 number. He said winds in the area were blowing from the northwest with gusts up to 5 Beaufort.

Talking about the power supply issues in Attica, Hardalias explained that the extended heatwave and the fires had greatly stressed the smooth running of the system and that huge efforts were currently being made to avoid extensive damage to the High-Voltage Centre in Kryoneri. To ensure the smooth operation of the electricity grid on the mainland, he said that the system operator had given instructions for rolling power cuts in Attica in order to preserve the production/demand balance.

He concluded with an appeal to the public to follow all instructions from the authorities, stressing that the conditions were "extremely dangerous".

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