Wildfire fueled by high winds forces evacuations in Athens suburbs

Wildfire fueled by high winds forces evacuations in Athens suburbs

Greek authorities ordered the evacuation of two coastal suburbs in southern Athens, on Saturday afternoon, as strong winds fanning a raging fire have changed its direction, threatening residential areas.

The head of the fire brigade, Lieutenant General Panagiotis Niafas, said residents of Aristidou Street in Voula should leave their homes and head to safety, as a precaution. Following the order, the mayor of wider region, Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni, Grigoris Konstandellos, asked asked residents to leave the Panorama area.

The blaze started in the nearby Hymettus mountain among low vegetation and spread quickly towards the coastal suburb of Ano Glyfada before heading to Voula.

“The situation is dire and the wind does not help. The atmosphere is suffocating, we have difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, the fire is moving towards Panorama and now the mayor of Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni has asked for an evacuation,” said Giannis Konstantatos, the head of the Association for the Protection and Development of Ymittos and mayor of nearby Elliniko-Argyroupolis, speaking to state-run news agency AMNA.

“The fire started from an area of ​​Ano Glyfada, where unfortunately no cleaning [of dried brannches] has been done. We are fighting along with the fire brigade and the volunteers, in to prevent it from reaching homes. It is the third fire in 20 days.”

Some 42 firefighters with 12 fire engines and two ground teams are assisted by 4 water-bombing aircraft, 2 helicopters and municipal water tanks. Firefighters are struggling to keep the flames from reaching the forest of Panorama, while new land and air reinforcements are expected to head in the area.

Meanwhile, road traffic at Hymettus Road is diverted from Apollonos Road towards the area of Kremasmenos Lagos, and traffic is also diverted at the intersection of Makedonomaxon and Herodotus roads. 

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