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Villages evacuated as wildfire rages on Greek island of Evia

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | August 14, 2019
Greece Evia fire
Europe   Greece Evia fire

A major wildfire on the Greek island of Evia has forced the evacuation of at least two villages and a monastery as smoke from the wind-fanned blaze blanketed the capital, Athens, further south.

Topics: Greece Greek fire

Authorities on Tuesday evacuated some 500 residents from the villages of Kontodespoti and Makrimalli as the flames neared homes, officials said.

The monastery of Panagia Makrymallis was evacuated first as a precaution.

"There are flames all around and it's difficult to breathe ... house yards are on fire," Yiorgos Psathas, Dirfys-Messapia mayor, told state broadcaster ERT.

"We will order more evacuations if the need arises," he added.

More than 200 firefighters were battling the blaze backed by 75 fire trucks, five water-bombing helicopters and six planes. The crews face rugged terrain, hills and poor visibility complicating air operations.

"The flames are 20-30 metres high ... you can't even see the sun," Panos Agiannitis, a volunteer firefighter at the scene, told Athens municipal radio.

"I feared for my life ... you could feel the heat 250 metres away," he said. "The only way for this fire to be extinguished is when there's nothing left to burn."

No fatalities had been reported and the winds were expected to subside in the evening.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece's recently-elected prime minister, returned to Athens after cutting short a vacation on his home island of Crete.

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