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Firefighters battle forest blaze near Athens suburbs

By AFP - Jul 27,2021 - Last updated at Jul 27,2021

A fireman sprays water next to damaged cars in a yard in Dionysos, north east of Athens, on Tuesday, after a fire scorched forests at the base of Mount Penteli (AFP photo)

ATHENS — A fire scorched forests at the base of Mount Penteli north of Athens on Tuesday, threatening suburbs but without causing casualties, firefighters and local authorities said.

Four people were arrested and an investigation is “underway” to determine the origin of the fire, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said on state television ERT.

The fire, which broke out late morning and was still burning on Tuesday afternoon, caused “damage” to homes, said Yannis Kalafatelis, the mayor of Dionysos, one of the areas threatened by the blaze.

“The front of the fire is long and it is not yet over,” he added on public television ERT.

The fire was still not under control at the end of the afternoon, according to firefighters, but “the situation has improved”, Hardalias said, adding that the fire had several hotspots.

A total of 141 firefighters were mobilised, backed by 10 helicopters and eight firefighting planes, according to the fire service, which said strong winds were complicating operations.

Smoke was billowing from the roofs of two houses and a car had been burned out, an AFP photographer said.

ERT public television interrupted its programming for live coverage of the fire, the fumes of which reached central Athens, about 30 kilometres away where temperatures hovered at 38ºC on Tuesday.

Forest fires regularly erupt in Greece during the summer months, including around Mount Penteli.

In July 2018, 102 people died when a fire fed by winds off the mountain raced through the coastal town of Mati, near Athens, in the country’s worst-ever toll from a forest inferno.

 

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