Corinth blaze burns homes in its path

A forest fire near Corinth, west of Athens, continued to rage for a third day yesterday burning homes in two villages, while the fire service struggled to cope with more than 100 brushfires across the country. Despite the efforts of some 300 firefighters, assisted by 10 water-dropping airplanes and four helicopters, the Corinth fire swept through the village of Chiliomodi and burned at least 10 homes in the area. No injuries were reported. Some 350 children were evacuated from a local summer camp. Authorities also had to help around 20 nuns leave the Panagia Faneromeni monastery as the fire approached. It is estimated that the fire, which has been raging since Tuesday, has burned some 2,500 hectares of pine forest around Corinth, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in the municipalities of Corinthia, Tenea and Saronico. Last night, firefighters were also battling a blaze at Diakofto in the northern Peloponnese that forced residents to flee the village of Dervenaki. The fire damaged three houses and three elderly residents were taken to hospital with breathing problems. A brushfire near Nafpaktos in west central Greece also threatened homes and had still not been brought under control late last night. Several fires were reported on the Ionian island of Zakynthos. There were also two blazes for authorities to deal with in Attica, one near the port of Lavrion, east of Athens, and the other near Nea Peramos, west of the capital. Both blazes were brought under control before any major damage was done. «We are still anxious, we have the whole of August and September ahead of us,» said Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, adding that there had been over 3,500 fires in Greece since May 1. «We put out 2,654 within three hours,» said Polydoras. «Another 530 were put out in three to 10 hours from the moment they started.» The duration of 110 fires was between 24 and 48 hours, according to the minister. Greece has asked the European Union for help in combating the wildfires. France has offered two firefighting aircraft and Germany may contribute a helicopter.

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