Firefighters battle another wildfire in Athens, prompting evacuations


ATHENS, Aug 4 - A wildfire which set homes and cars on fire in the outskirts of Athens and forced residents to flee was receding on Wednesday, authorities said. Extrem temperatures fuelled another blaze near the capital

With Greece facing its third severe heatwave in 30 years, Athens residents were advised not to leave until a thick cloud of smoke covered the sky from Tuesday's fire.

Right now, there is no active front, fire brigade spokesman Vasilis Vathrakogiannis told ANT 1 TV. There are so many forces present so rekindling will be effectively tackled.

More than 500 firefighters were dispatched on the lower slope of Mount Parnitha on the outskirts of Athens, assisted by nine helicopters, five aircraft, police and the army in a densely vegetated area in the region of Acharnes.

Vathrakogiannis said Cyprus expected also fire control reinforcements from Greece.

The fire started on Tuesday in the village of Varympompi, 20 km north of central Athens and spread to nearby towns.

I saved the animals, that's why I stayed here, said one resident, Panagiotis, standing among scorched cars and blackened pine trees. There were explosions in homes, cars.

Another wildfire raging on Athens island, the northern part of the island, about 70 km from Evia, forcing authorities to evacuate many villages since late Tuesday.

Some 95 firemen with 35 engines and five aircraft were fighting the Evia blaze which was primarily burning forest land.

Thank God we haven't had any loss of life so far, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday in Varympompi after an inspection visit at a fire brigade coordination center in December.

Temperatures have been over 40 Celsius in the Greek town since the weekend.

Europe faces a summer of extreme weather from heavy flooding in the north to the severe heatwaves and fires which have engulfed several areas in the Mediterranean Sea, with neighboring Turkey battling fires for the past week.