Fires ravage forestland on Lesvos, in Attica

Hundreds of hectares of forest and cultivated land were ravaged and at least five homes destroyed yesterday as several fires raged across the country, fanned by strong winds. A blaze that started on Lesvos, just south of its capital Mytilene, early on Thursday was eventually put out by firefighters yesterday afternoon but only after it had wrought severe damage on forestland and olive plantations and damaged nearby tavernas, shops and a hotel. A mammoth effort involving 100 firefighters, 100 conscripts and 50 rescue workers as well as several water-dropping aircraft eventually extinguished the fire which had been fanned out of control by extremely strong winds. Local authorities said that the fire had wreaked the worst damage the island had seen in a long time. And Lesvos Mayor Aris Hadzikomninos proposed an immediate ban on hunting on the island after being informed that a group of hunters had been spotted in the area where the fire had broken out. In Grammatiko, eastern Attica, a fire that broke out on Thursday afternoon was extinguished early yesterday but firefighters remained on standby to douse any rekindling embers. The extent of the damage from the blaze was unclear. A smaller fire in Koropi, also in eastern Attica, which started early yesterday, was extinguished within an hour. But a blaze on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, where winds were stronger than in Attica, was much tougher to contain and demanded several hours of persistence by 20 firefighters and three water-dropping aircraft. Fire warnings remain in effect today for several Aegean islands and parts of the mainland due to high winds and temperatures.