Greece Wildfire– Thousands Evacuated As Out Of Control Blaze Engulfs Homes (Photos And Video)
WALL OF FLAMES:
Thousands of people have been evacuated as “out of control” wildfires engulfed homes in the suburbs of Athens. More than 500 firefighters were battling through the night as residents reportedly became trapped between walls of flames sparked by Greece’s worst heatwave for 30 years. Chaotic pictures show numerous cars and homes scorched as reports have emerged that some people have become trapped.
The main towns of Varympopi, Adames and Thrakomakedones have been the worst affected as authorities have grappled with a total of 81 forest fires. Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said the fires in the north of Athens was very dangerous and had been exacerbated by the heatwave – considered Greece’s worst in 30 years. So far no severe injuries were reported as authorities confirmed several buildings had been damaged.
“We continue to fight hour by hour, with our top priority being to save human lives, Hardalias said. We will do so all night.” 500 firefighters have battled the blaze and have been assisted by nine helicopters, seven aircraft and 305 police in the densely vegetated area, Reuters report. They are currently believed to aiding a rescue mission amid reports residents, firefighters and policemen were trapped between two fronts in the worst affected areas. The 100 emergency line has received at least 14 calls by residents asking for help.
As the wind dropped later on Tuesday, the regional governor for greater Athens, Giorgos Patoulis, said this could allow the fire to be tamed after water-dropping aircraft resume operations at first light Wednesday. “If the winds don’t grow it can be brought under control by the early morning so the planes can provide the final solution,” he told state ERT TV. Seven people have reportedly been taken to hospital with breathing problems.
Earlier, a total of 80 children were evacuated from a summer camp as residents fled local villages in towns while others stayed onto defend their houses with garden hoses. The fire was so bad that equestrian clubs even let their horses loose to flee the fire. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has now visited a fire brigade operations centre coordinating efforts to contain the blaze and other fires.
“All available means and resources have been deployed in the fight on multiple fronts,” his office said in a statement. “In these difficult times, the priority is to protect human lives.” Meanwhile, a power grid operator in Athens said the fire had damaged parts of the grid, posing a major risk to the electricity supply in parts of the metropolitan region.
They issued several warnings as the fire also disrupted train services and forced authorities to seal off part of a national motorway. The Greek Fire Service confirmed that it will now maintain an alert for most of the country throughout Tuesday and Wednesday as temperatures continue to soar.