Greece authorities tell people to stay indoors as wildfire rages

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ATHENS, Aug 4 - Greek authorities told people in Athens to stay indoors on Wednesday as a wildfire raging uncontrolled north of the city covered the sky with a thick cloud of smoke.

More than 500 firefighters combatted the fire on the lower slopes of Mount Parnitha, on the city outskirts, assisted by nine helicopters, five aircraft, policy and the army in a densely vegetated area in the region Acharnes.

The fire is still raging, its perimeter is very broad and the heat load is very strong, a fire brigade official said.

Despite the sweltering heat and stifling conditions, the national observatory warned people in the city to move outside because of the harmful particles in the sky.

Temperatures have been over 40 Celsius but Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said the situation on Wednesday appeared somewhat better, helped by less wind and humidity. One front was abating, but another three were burning and no casualties were reported.

The blaze broke out on Tuesday in the city of Varympompi about 20 km north of central Athens. It exploded in nearby cities in scorching temperatures forcing homes and cars to burn and forcing residents to flee.

Thank God, we haven't had any loss of human life so far, Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after an inspection visit at the beginning of Tuesday.

Power grid operator IPTO was trying to restore power to some parts of the metropolitan region after the fire damaged parts of the grid.

The North is facing a summer of extreme weather, from heavy flooding in Europe to severe heatwaves and fires that have engulfed several areas in the Mediterranean Sea with Greece's neighbor Turkey battling fires for the past week.