Fire damages homes in southern Greece; more active flames

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A major fire has broken out in southern Greece, burning homes in villages not far from the famous archaeological site of ancient Olympia and prompting the evacuation of six villages.

The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon near the villages of Krestena and Skillountia, located south and southeast of ancient Olympia. The authorities sent a message to the inhabitants of this village and four other villages to evacuate quickly.

Fire department spokesman Yannis Artopoios said 125 firefighters and 43 fire trucks were operating in the area, along with four planes and four helicopters, but the plane cannot operate at night. On a positive note, prevailing northwest winds were pushing the fire southeast, up a mountain and away from ancient Olympia, authorities said.

At least six larger fires burned across the country on Sunday, firefighters said, including three that lasted for several days. Artopois said 141 wildfires had started in Greece over the past three days.

The blaze on the Greek island of Lesvos, which required the evacuation of more than 450 tourists and residents on Saturday, is slowly being brought under control, with only scattered flames late Sunday afternoon, local authorities said.

But two fires still threaten Greek nature reserves, one in the northeast region of Thrace, near the Turkish border, and the other in the region of western Macedonia.

Three other fires broke out on Sunday, one in western Macedonia, another in central Greece and the third on the island of Crete.

In Dadia Forest, home to a number of rare bird species, firefighters and aid workers rescued injured animals and treated them. Late Sunday, the fire spread again, forcing residents of Dadia village to evacuate for the second time in three days.

Hot and dry conditions, along with gusty winds, prevailed for weeks in Greece. A heat wave that arrived on Saturday pushed the temperature above 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places. The heat should persist for several days.


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