Firefighters battling fires in Athens, Peloponnese

AFP , Friday 17 Jul 2015

Smoke from a fire travels over the eastern suburbs of Athens on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Firefighters in Greece on Friday were battling a brush fire in northeastern Athens and another wildfire in the southern Pelopponese peninsula that prompted the evacuation of five villages.

In Athens, a huge gray cloud billowed over the capital from a fire that broke out in brush land near the northeastern district of Kareas, but the fire department insisted homes were not in danger.

"Homes are not in danger, ten fire engines are already in place and two helicopters are en route," a fire department spokesman told AFP.

Earlier in the day, five villages were evacuated in the Peloponnese, near the town of Monemvassia, as a wildfire raged amid near-gale winds, local officials said.

"It's hellish right now, there are hundreds of pockets of fire," Iraklis Trichilis, mayor of the town of Monemvassia, had earlier told Skai television.

Civil protection chief Tassos Mavropoulos told the station that reinforcements from the entire Peloponnese were being rushed to the area, adding that the operation was complicated by mountainous terrain in addition to the wind.

More than 120 firefighters had been dispatched to the area, supported by 50 fire engines, four aircraft and two helicopters, officials said.

But fire department spokesman Nikos Tsongas warned there could be further damage to property.

"The winds are strong and are not expected to weaken. There could be further damage," he said.

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