A wildfire fanned by high winds tore through vegetation in a southern suburb of Athens on Saturday, firefighters said, forcing residents to evacuate and damaging around 20 properties.
Greece’s civil protection agency issued an emergency SMS call for people to leave Ano Voula as the flames reached homes.
Authorities reported no casualties, but four other neighborhoods were evacuated when the wind changed direction and pushed the fire front towards the town of Vari, Grigoris Konstantelos, the mayor of Voula, told Skai TV.
Kostantelos said around 20 houses were damaged.
Six water bomber planes, three helicopters and municipal tankers supported dozens of firefighters with 20 fire engines.
“The situation is very difficult and the wind is not helping,” said Giannis Konstantatos, mayor of Ellinikon-Argiroupoli, a neighboring municipality.
“The atmosphere is suffocating, we are struggling to breathe,” he told the Athens News Agency.
Police told people to leave their homes in footage shown by Ant1 TV.
Firefighters told AFP that the wind has eased a bit and they hope the blaze will slow its pace.
Skai TV showed footage of a house on fire with flames licking inside.
Giorgos Papanikolaou, the mayor of Glyfada, where the fire first broke out, said it started at a high-voltage power station, according to the agency.
Later in the afternoon, a second fire broke out near Athens, in the village of Kouvaras, but residential areas were not threatened.
At the end of the day, firefighters told AFP that the wind had died down, raising hopes that the spread of the fire will slow.
Last summer, Greece’s most severe heat wave in decades, which authorities blamed on climate change, saw fires destroy more than 100,000 hectares of forest and farmland, the worst damage caused by forest fires since 2007.
More than 200 firefighters and technical equipment provided by European Union countries will soon be deployed in Greece to help strengthen the fight against major forest fires.
Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Norway will participate in the deployment, coordinated by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
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