Thousands evacuated as forest fires rage in Greece
THRAKOMAKEDONES, Greece — Wildfires rampage through Greek forests for yet another day, threatening homes and triggering more evacuations, a day after hundreds of people were plucked off beaches by ferries in a dramatic overnight rescue.
One volunteer firefighter has died and at least 20 people have been treated in hospitals. Dozens of fires are burning across the country today, blazes that one official describes as “a biblical catastrophe.”
Scores of homes, businesses and farms have been burnt over the last week in fires that broke out during Greece’s most protracted and intense heat wave in three decades.
One massive fire advanced up the slopes of Mount Parnitha, a national park north of Athens that features some of the last substantial forests near the Greek capital.
The blaze sent choking smoke across Athens, where authorities set up a hotline for residents with breathing problems. Overnight and throughout the day, fire crews struggled to contain constant flare-ups.
In apocalyptic scenes that went into the night, small ferries and other boats evacuated 1,400 people from a seaside village and beaches on Evia, an island of rugged, forested mountains popular with tourists and campers, after approaching flames cut off other means of escape. Behind them, towering flames and smoke blanketed the hills.
The scale of Greece’s wildfires has been breathtaking, with more than 100 breaking out across the country over the past few days. Most were quickly tamed, but several rapidly burned out of control, consuming homes and causing untold ecological damage.