Greek firefighters on Friday battled a large wildfire in the area of Kechries, near Corinth, for the third day and were taxed by a new blaze that broke out in Grammatiko, Ilia, in the Peloponnese, with strong winds hampering their efforts.
The Grammatiko fire broke out at around noon in an area that has both pine trees and farmland. When the winds whipped the flames towards the village of Helidoni, the head of the local fire service ordered residents to gather at a safe spot in the village pending their evacuation.
Despite an intensified fire service response, including water drops by seven aircraft aided by 120 firefighters on the ground, the blaze continued to rage, prompting the evacuation of Helidoni. Residents of neighboring settlements were also on standby to leave their homes.
As for the Kechries blaze, the fire service continued efforts to douse its two main fronts, one near the settlement of Ryto and the other near the Faneromeni Monastery close to Hiliomodi. Helicopters continued water drops and fire service officials said they believed the blaze could be significantly controlled by nightfall.
The General Secretariat of Civil Protection declared a state of emergency in five villages in the municipality of Corinth – Xylokerizi, Sofiko, Athikia, Galataki and Agios Ioannis.
The overall extent of the destruction wreaked by the fires by last night remained unclear. However, an initial assessment of the damage caused by the Kechries blaze to agricultural land, and chiefly to olive trees, is believed to exceed 2,000 hectares.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias has called for the activation of the European Union’s Copernicus satellite-based Earth observation network in order to assess the extent of the fire damage.
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into the causes of the blaze following claims by Nanopoulos that another fire had broken out in the same spot earlier this month.