Wildfire wrath north of Athens evacuates one town


Athens — A large wildfire broke out north of Athens on Monday, and authorities ordered the evacuation of a nearby coastal town as a precautionary measure.

Strong winds were burning flames in the Schimatari region, about 50 km (30 miles) from the capital, as temperatures soared.

Authorities urged residents to leave the town of Dillesi and shut down local trains as more than 100 firefighters, supported by four aircraft and two helicopters, fought the flames.

Paramedics were also trying to put out the fire in the Achaia region of the southern Peloponnese, where four villages had been evacuated.

Last year, Greece was hit by the worst heat wave of 30 years, causing wildfires to hit about 300,000 acres of forest and shrublands.

Following sharp criticism of the response, the government promised to improve its firefighting capabilities.

Dozens of Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters were stationed in Greece on Saturday, and the first members of the European Army were deployed to provide backup in case of a large wildfire in the summer.

Greece’s worst wildfire disaster killed 102 people in the summer of 2018 when a flame broke out in the seaside town of Matty and the area near Athens.

By Renee Maltezou