Greece Wildfires: Massive blaze north of Athens forces hundreds to abandon their homes

A massive wildfire near a forest north of Athens, Greece has forced hundreds to leave their homes as the fires reached residential areas.

Thick plumes of smoke passed over the capital on Tuesday and prompted multiple evacuations near Tatoi, 20km north of Athens.

People fled their homes in cars and on motorcycles and headed towards the capital as smoke blanketed residential areas.

“It is a large fire and it will take a lot of work to get this under control,” Greater Athens regional governor George Patoulis told state television.

“People in the area should be on stand-by. We are asking members of the public in the fire-affected areas to keep the windows of their homes closed because the smoke is very dense.”

A severe heatwave has fueled deadly fires across the regions. Not only Greece, but also Turkey, Albania, Italy have been battling deadly fires.

The extreme heat has strained the national power supply and fuelled the wildfires.

Experts have warned that climate change was increasing both the frequency and intensity of the wildfires.

The current wildfires can be associated with not only higher temperatures but also lower precipitation. Dry wood burns more easily and more quickly, making the wildfires more severe and allowing them to spread more quickly.

Five water-dropping planes and five helicopters were involved in the firefighting effort near Athens, including a Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft leased from Russia.

The blaze damaged electricity pylons, adding further strain on the electricity network already under pressure due to widespread use of air-conditioning.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said this week that Greece was facing the “worst heatwave” since 1987.

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