Hundreds evacuated as fire engulfs Athens suburbs

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Hundreds evacuated as fire engulfs Athens suburbs

Hundreds of people have been evacuated Wednesday as a wildfire threatened mountainside suburbs northeast of the Greek capital, Athens, reported DW, quoting news agencies AFP, AP and dpa.

Firefighters battled through the night into Wednesday to contain the fire, but strong winds, dry conditions and high temperatures were making it difficult, according to firefighting services.

The Fire Service said 15 planes and nine helicopters were involved in the firefighting effort on Mount Penteli, located to the northeast of downtown Athens.

Nearly 500 firefighters and 120 vehicles were trying to stop the flames from spreading to the suburbs of Penteli, Pallini, Anthousa and Gerakas, which are home to some 29,000 people.

Later on Wednesday, Greek fire services spokesman Ioannis Artopoios told the Skai broadcaster that "the situation is a bit better." At the same time, he said emergency services are still attempting to "surround" numerous patches of the fires in order to extinguish them completely.

State-owned public broadcaster ERT reported that three firefighters and nine residents had suffered mild injuries and were taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

Police had moved some 600 people to safety overnight.

"It was insane, we did not know where to flee," an elderly resident of Anthousa told ERT.

"Embers were falling from the sky, I've never seen anything like it," he said.

Greece has so far been spared the scorching temperatures that have contributed to deadly wildfires in France, Portugal and Spain. However, heavy wind remains a problem in spreading fires.

Wildfires across Western Europe

Firefighters battling twin fires in the Gironde region in southwest France said the blazes were being brought under control thanks to cooler weather, but had not been stopped completely.

"Our assessment is generally positive. The situation improved overnight," said local fire service spokesman Arnaud Mendousse.

In Italy, 500 residents in the Tuscan community of Massarosa were brought to safety as firefighters continued to battle a large wildfire.

More than 1,200 firefighters are also combating forest blazes in Portugal.

Authorities said fires were raging near Chave and Murca east of Porto. The approaching fires have driven more than a thousand people from their homes.

Portugal has also reported more than 1,000 deaths due to the current heat wave. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said more than 500 people have died in Spain during the heat wave.

The London Fire Brigade had its busiest day since World War II on Tuesday, as firefighters received more than 2,600 calls and at one point were fighting 12 fires simultaneously, said Mayor Sadiq Khan.

At least 41 properties were destroyed.

Despite lower temperatures, the fire danger remains high because hot, dry weather has parched grassland around the city, Khan said.

Hundreds evacuated as fire engulfs Athens suburbs

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