Strong wind fuels multiple blazes

Wild fires ravaged some 5,000 hectares of forest and brush in the northern prefecture of Evros and the Peloponnese on Friday, leading to the evacuation of several villages and threatening a military arms depot, as extremely strong winds hampered the job of firefighters.

The largest fires were in the prefecture of Evros and in the Peloponnese, which were both declared to be in a state of emergency. Several other fires across the country — including a large one in Thessaloniki?s Seikh Sou forest — stretched national firefighting resources. As two French waterdropping aircraft were dispatched to join the rescue efforts, with more set to arrive later, Prime Minister George Papandreou visited the fire department?s headquarters in Athens.

One of fires in Evros — which broke out near the village of Lefkimi on Wednesday and prompted the evacuation of two villages, Koila and Melia, on Thursday night — continued to burn Friday. But regional authorities were more concerned about a new fire near a military facility storing arms and explosives in the municipality of Ferres, near the Turkish border. Firefighters had partial control of the blaze by late Friday.

Another large fire that broke out in Thessaloniki?s Seikh Sou Forest caused widespread damage. There were also fires in the Peloponnese — the biggest near Tripoli and Mesolonghi — and blazes near Nafpaktos, on the Ionian island of Zakynthos and near Keratea, southeastern Attica.

On Thursday night a brush fire threatened homes in the southern suburb of Ano Glyfada but firefighters managed to bring it under control before it could spread.

There was no overview of the amount of damage caused to land and homes by yesterday?s fires and no reports of any injuries.