Firefighters early on Tuesday continued their efforts to fight three major fires that razed forestland and destroyed homes in different parts of Attica – Kineta in the west and Pendeli and Kalamos in the north – as regional authorities declared a state of emergency and at least two people were confirmed dead.
The firefighters’ efforts were hampered by strong winds and the fact that their limited resources were required to deal with several large blazes at the same time. Authorities were to call on fellow European Union member states for assistance.
More than 20 people were hospitalized for treatment for burns and two were confirmed dead though there were reports of more casualties. A Reuters witness reported seeing the remains of four people on the streets of Mati, a small coastal town east of Athens.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had traveled to Bosnia for an official visit, returned to Athens after being briefed by Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas about the fires.
Expressing concern about the “parallel fronts,” Tsipras said that “despite the adverse conditions we will do everything possible to bring the situation under control.”
Toskas, for his part, suggested that arsonists were behind the blazes. “Those fires are not so innocent,” he said, noting that a fire had broken out in Kineta on Sunday night in a spot close to Monday's blaze.
Three villages were evacuated in the early afternoon after the first fire broke out in the Geraneia mountains near Kineta. But the efforts of firefighters were not enough to stop the flames from reaching, and damaging, dozens of homes.
There was particular concern as the flames of the Kineta fire approached the site of an oil refinery in Aghioi Theodoroi on Monday evening. Toskas said firefighters were quickly dispatched to that area.
The second major fire broke out later Monday afternoon in the area of Pendeli. Local authorities evacuated children’s summer camps while dozens of homes and cars were destroyed, according to local reports.
A coast guard vessel was late Monday night seeking a boat in which 10 tourists are said to have fled from Mati, in eastern Attica, to escape the fire. Reports late Monday night indicated that five of the tourists had been found.
Another fire at Apokoronas in the Cretan prefecture of Hania also taxed firefighters earlier in the day.