People were frantically urged to evacuate their homes north of Athens Friday as hundreds of firefighters with water-dropping aircraft battled to contain massive wildfires, fueled by strong winds, for a fourth day.
Meanwhile, a 38-year-old volunteer died Friday after sustaining a blow to the head when an electricity pylon fell on him in Ippokrateios Politeia, north of Athens.
The new forest fire that broke out on August 5 in the area of Vasilika Parnitha, two days after the first blaze that had destroyed houses in Varybobi and Adames, crossed the main highway linking Athens with northern Greece on Thursday night, heading toward Agios Stefanos and Lake Marathon.
The number of new uncontrolled fire fronts was constantly changing during the day, and according to Deputy Regional Minister of Civil Protection Vassilis Kokkalis, they numbered seven at one point.
Further compounding the firefighting efforts were the strong winds throughout the day.
By noon, 13 evacuation messages had been sent via the 112 emergency communications service.
People near Lake Marathon and Kalentzi were asked to leave for Grammatiko. Residents of Rodopoli and Stamata were asked to move to Athens and those in Varybobi, Thrakomakedones and Acharnes to leave their homes again, due to a severe resurgence late in the afternoon near Tatoi Airport.
Evacuation orders were also issued for Kapandriti, Polydendri and Malakasa, among others.
As of Thursday night, two volunteer firefighters remained intubated in serious condition in the intensive care unit of the KAT hospital in Athens. They were suffering mainly from respiratory burns, while one of them reportedly had external burns.
It remained difficult Friday to make a full and detailed assessment of the extent of the disaster, in terms of the homes and businesses that were destroyed.
Speaking to Kathimerini Friday afternoon, the mayor of Oropos, Giorgos Giasimakis, said that Polydendri, Kapandriti and Ippokrateios Politeia were left without water as the fire damaged the DEDDIE power distribution network, making it impossible to supply electricity to the pumping stations. Referring to the damage in the wider area, he said it “is great, very great.”
Meanwhile, a woman was arrested Friday in the Pedion tou Areos park in the center of Athens on suspicion of arson.