Greek firefighters battle major wildfire near Athens

Greek firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft are battling a string of wildfires near Athens and in other parts of the country.

Strong winds whipping up the flames are hampering firefighters’ efforts.

No injuries have been reported. A photographer for The Associated Press saw at least two homes damaged by the worst blaze in an area with several scattered holiday homes near Kalyvia, south-east of the Greek capital.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>A helicopter drops water in a bid to tackle the raging fires (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)</figcaption>
A helicopter drops water in a bid to tackle the raging fires (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)

Residents in some nearby areas were notified to evacuate their homes and head to beaches as a precaution. Authorities closed off main roads leading to the archaeological site of Sounio.

The fire service said about 180 firefighters were trying to contain the wildfire raging through forest, olive groves, scrub and vineyards in the Feriza area near Kalyvia, assisted by eight water-dropping helicopters and five planes, as well as local volunteers.

Other wildfires are burning near Nea Makri, a seaside resort east of Athens, on the islands of Andros, Thassos and Crete, and in two locations in the southern Peloponnese region.

Wildfires are common during Greece’s hot, arid summers. In 2018, a major blaze that swept through the Mati resort, a short distance south of Nea Makri, caused 102 deaths.