Greek Wildfire Rages Out of Control; Villages on Evia Evacuated (video)

Greek authorities have ordered the evacuation of three villages in central Evia for precautionary reasons due to the wildfire that is raging on the island, which has burned forestland since early Tuesday.

The orders for the evacuation of the villages of Stavros, Markrymalli and Kondodespoti were taken jointly by Vassilis Mattheopoulos, the head of the Fire Brigade on Evia, and Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s general secretary for Civil Protection.


Meanwhile, the number of firefighting crews has increased greatly. Currently, a total of 75 fire engines with 227 firefighters, and seven groups of firemen on foot, are being assisted by six firefighting aircraft and six water dropping helicopters.

The fire started at about 3 AM (0000 GMT) at the side of a road, and was spread quickly by strong winds, which swept through the dry, dense vegetation in the pine forests in the center of the island.

The strong winds blew the smoke from the blaze north toward the Magnesia region and south to the Attica peninsula and Athens.

The pine forests on Evia are part of the “Natura 2000” European network of protected areas and habitats.

Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend, amid gale-force winds and temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).

On Monday, a major forest fire threatening homes in Peania, an eastern suburb of Athens, was successfullybrought under control. At least two houses were burned but there were no reports of injuries.

On Sunday, a fire on the small island of Elafonissos, in the Peloponnese region, was brought under control after a two-day battle.