Greece | Forest fires brought under control near Athens, authorities fear difficult summer

(Athens) The violent fires that broke out on Sunday in the suburbs of Athens “have been brought under control”, the fire brigade spokesman said on Monday, while the Greek authorities fear a difficult summer.

Posted at 1:07 p.m.

“There is no longer an active front, the fires were contained by firefighters supported on Sunday by water bombers and helicopters, who fought in very dangerous conditions,” declared Vassilis Vathrakoyannis.

Fanned by strong winds of 70 km/h and drought, two forest fires broke out at midday on Sunday in Keratea, a seaside resort east of the capital, and Stamata, a particularly wooded suburb at the foot of Mount Penteli, in northern Athens.

A 45-year-old man died of cardiac arrest while trying to escape the flames in Stamata, where several houses suffered significant material damage.

The authorities carried out evacuations.

On Monday, 52 forest fires were recorded by firefighters.

The most difficult situation remains on the island of Chios, in the north-east of the Aegean Sea, where 142 firefighters, seven planes and three helicopters have been deployed, Vassilis Vathrakoyannis said on Monday evening.

Two firefighters were slightly injured during this operation, he also added.

A major tourist destination, Greece is plagued by fires every summer.

But the situation is expected to be even more tense this year after the mildest winter on record and the earliest heatwave, with temperatures rising locally to 44°C in early June.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a cabinet meeting that his country had “now entered the heart of the fire season” and called on his citizens to help “prevent” the devastating fires.

“The fight against fires will continue” and “it will certainly not be won without the help of citizens, particularly in the area of ​​prevention,” he stressed.

On Sunday, he warned Greeks that “difficult times” were “ahead” of them.

This June “is characterized as the hottest since 2010 […] with average monthly values ​​up to 4.8°C above normal for the season,” the National Weather Service said on its website.

On Saturday, two fires on Mount Parnes near Athens and on the island of Serifos, in the Cyclades, were contained.

On Sunday, immense black smoke rose 75 km from Athens, on the highway linking the capital to Thessaloniki (north) when a fire broke out in a recycling factory in the industrial zone of Ritsona.

According to an initial assessment, in each of the two “very difficult” fires on Mount Parnès and Stamata, less than 100 hectares appear to have been burned, said Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who specified that the fires had been detected in time thanks to the use of drones.

“Currently there is no more wind, which has helped to control the majority of fires across the country apart from those on the island of Zante (west) and Distomo in Boeotia (100 km north of Athens),” said Vassilis Vathrakoyannis.



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