Dozens of wildfires under control in Greece

ATHENS (AFP): Greek firefighters have brought dozens of wildfires under control despite high winds, authorities said on Sunday, after a coastal village had to be evacuated.

Holidaymakers and locals were among 500 people who fled Niborio village on Evia island after a large blaze ripped through a forest on Saturday.

“The fire with the help of the wind moved south and as a result the Fire Brigade officer in charge asked for the preemptive evacuation of the Niborio inhabitants,” civil protection deputy minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised emergency briefing on Saturday after 51 fires were declared.

Four fires, all in areas of dried grass, were also burning simultaneously in different locations in the western Attica towns of Elefsina and Aspropyrgos on Saturday, while a forest fire in Varnavas, in the northeast of the peninsula, raged without threatening homes.

Sixty firefighters and 23 fire engines tackled the blazes, backed by six helicopters and seven planes.

By Sunday, all the fires were under control, the Fire Brigade said, while in Evia a 57-year-old man was arrested for arson.

According to ANA news agency, he is a farmer who told police that while trying to crank start his van, sparks from the exhaust set grass alight and burned through 400 hectares of vegetation.

The Civil Protection department issued a high risk warning of wildfires over Sunday. Greece faces forest fires every summer, fanned by dry weather, strong winds as temperatures soar well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

In 2018, 102 people died in the coastal resort of Mati, near Athens, in Greece’s worst-ever fire disaster.

According to Kathimerini daily, 179 fires were caused by negligence and 26 deliberately set in 2020.

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