Firemen fight blazes in Messinia, Serres

Firefighters were battling two new blazes in the Peloponnesian prefecture of Messinia and in Serres, northern Greece, on Sunday as sweltering temperatures and strong winds created tinderbox conditions.

A water-dropping aircraft was dispatched to aid efforts on the ground near the village of Myrsinohori in Messinia, where the first fire broke out.

A second blaze near Nigrita, in Serres, was less accessible to firefighters on the ground and two water-dropping planes were sent to boost their efforts.

A forest fire that broke out on Saturday, in Kymi in northern Evia, was almost under control on Sunday while another blaze in Arkitsa, Fthiotida, had reportedly abated following a coordinated effort by firefighters and local volunteers.

According to figures from forestry and fire services, more than 40,000 hectares of forest and farmland have been destroyed by fires so far this year, compared to 35,000 hectares in 2011, while the number of fires that have broken out since the start of the year and until the end of June rose by 19.7 percent compared to the same period last year.