Villages evacuated on Greek island as crews battle wildfires

Two new brush fires have broken out on the Greek island of Evia, forcing the evacuation of four villages, authorities have said.

The new wildfires came several hours after a major blaze led to the mobilisation of more than 100 firefighters and the evacuation of another village.

Firefighters managed to limit the spread of the initial fire, which was burning woodland and agricultural areas, but difficult terrain and high temperatures hampered their efforts to extinguish it.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Animals take cover at a farm during a wildfire (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)</figcaption>
Animals take cover at a farm during a wildfire (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

The fire department said that a 64-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of starting the first fire by using a naked flame to burn dried weeds near his house.

The man will appear before a prosecutor in court on Friday.

Burning dried weeds and other such activities outdoors is banned in Greece from May 1 to October 1, as part of measures to prevent forest fires.

The two new fires broke out simultaneously shortly before midnight, authorities said.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>An airplane drops water over a fire (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)</figcaption>
An airplane drops water over a fire (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

A total of 255 firefighters, four water-dropping planes and three helicopters along with 100 vehicles and earth-moving machinery were battling the three fires.

All three fires continued to burn by the early afternoon.

Wildfires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summer months.

Last year, the country’s deadliest fire killed 101 people in a seaside settlement outside of Athens.

- Press Association

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Greece

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