Fresh evacuation orders were sent by the 112 civil protection hotline to hundreds of villagers and sounded by the bells of local churches in northern Evia, where a wildfire has been raging since Tuesday, injuring three firefighters.
The latest orders to leave were sent to residents and holidaymakers in Koulouros, Marouli, Rovies and Palaiohori.
Firefighters, water-dumping aircraft, municipal crews and volunteers have been trying to contain the blaze that started on Tuesday in forestland near the seaside village of Limni and appeared to be making some progress in the early hours of Wednesday until a shift in winds reignited the fire and scattered it in different directions.
The situation is said to be particularly critical in the area of Drymonas, where a group of monks are refusing to evacuate even though their monastery, Saint David, is surrounded.
“It’s a very difficult situation. The flames are 30 to 40 meters high inside the pine forest and have encircled the monastery. We’re choking on the smoke. It’s a nightmare,” the monastery’s abbot told the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
“There are two main fronts that are out of control and many smaller ones, and we are completely unable to respond by air or by land. The flames are huge and they’re threatening everything,” said the deputy regional governor of Central Greece, Dimitris Vourdanos, who was at the monastery with Regional Governor Fanis Spanos trying to convince the monks to evacuate.
The ANA-MPA said that the three firefighters sustained minor burns and did not have to be hospitalized.