Gales fan fires, keep ferries put

Gale-force winds fanned forest fires yesterday and confined island-bound ferries to port, as much of the country experienced unseasonably low temperatures. High winds hampered firemen in Palaiohouni, 15 kilometers east of Megalopolis in the southern Peloponnese, where a forest fire broke out at around 11.20 a.m. Eight water-carrying planes, two helicopters, 22 fire engines and numerous firefighters and volunteers battled late into yesterday evening to extinguish the blaze, which forced authorities to close a local section of the Tripolis-to-Megalopolis national road for over six hours. Another blaze raged near the village of Pantanassa, in the Arta area, yesterday evening, while two fires also broke out in Halkidiki. Firefighters fought for one-and-a-half hours to control a fire in the Nea Philadelphia park in northwestern Athens, which began at 4 p.m. Officials warned of a major fire risk today in Attica, Evia and the Cyclades. All ferry departures from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina to the Aegean islands and Crete were suspended yesterday.

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