Large wildfire ravages forest in northern Greece as 7 villages are ordered to evacuate

AP , Saturday 19 Aug 2023

Greek authorities on Saturday ordered seven villages evacuated near the northeastern border with Turkey due to a large summer wildfire burning out of control and whipped on by high winds.

Firefighters operate during a wildfire near Lampiri village, west of Patras, Greece, Saturday, Jul. 31, 2021. AP


The fire service said more than 100 firefighters, assisted by nine water-dropping aircraft, were struggling to contain the blaze. The forest fire broke out early Saturday near the village of Melia, east of the town of Alexandroupolis.

The evacuation orders were issued as a precaution and no damage to buildings or injuries to humans were reported. Authorities shut down a section of a major highway in the area due to heavy smoke drifting across it.

Another smaller wildfire was burning outside Thessaloniki, in the north, the second-largest city in Greece. Earlier, firefighters brought under control a blaze on the western island of Cephalonia.

The fire service has issued a high wildfire alert for the weekend.

Last month, deadly wildfires caused havoc in central Greece, and forced the evacuation of some 20,000 tourists on the resort island of Rhodes. Shortly later, two air force pilots were killed when their water-dropping plane crashed while diving low to tackle a blaze on the island of Evia.

European Union officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017.

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