Firefighters are tested by more than 100 blazes

Firefighters yesterday struggled to contain more than 100 blazes that broke out across the country as high temperatures and strong winds hampered their efforts to protect forestland and shield residential areas. Fires were still burning late last night in southern Corfu and in the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly, where two villages – Evangelismos and Ambelakia – were threatened. One home in Evangelismos was damaged by fire but there were no reports of any injuries. The Tempe fire also damaged local power lines, plunging the area into darkness. Authorities yesterday evening closed off a section of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, near the Tempe junction, after smoke from the fire obscured visibility. The fire near Lefkimi on Corfu did not threaten any residential areas. The main problem faced by firefighters in all yesterday’s blazes was the strong winds that neared gale-force level in some areas. Strong gusts of wind fanned a large blaze that broke out near an industrial site in Aspropyrgos, western Attica, early yesterday morning and had destroyed at least three factories by late in the afternoon. Aspropyrgos Mayor Nikos Meletiou was buffeted by the wind as he tried to speak to a television journalist. «The situation is very difficult… the wind is so strong it is difficult to stand up,» he said. Firefighters battling the blaze said no injuries had been reported. Another fire which broke out near Markopoulo, northern Attica, early yesterday morning damaged three homes before it was partially contained yesterday afternoon. Of the 100 blazes that broke out yesterday the great majority occured within eight municipalities that are not included in the currently expanding land register. This fueled suspicions that some of the fires may have been started deliberately by people planning to take advantage of the absence of official records to build homes on razed forestland.