Wildfires in different areas of Greece, homes, camp evacuated

More than 250 firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft struggled Wednesday to contain a large wildfire fanned by strong winds that forced the evacuation of five settlements in southern Greece.No injuries were reported, and the extent of any property damage was not immediately clear.

The Fire Brigade said 10 water-dropping helicopters and seven planes were deployed to assist with the ground operation in an area inland from the seaside settlement of Kechries near the town of Corinth in the Peloponnese region, some 80 km southwest of Athens. The aircraft were due to continue operations until nightfall, after which they are unable to fly.

Two villages, three smaller settlements and a summer camp were evacuated as a precaution. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene from other parts of Greece, and local volunteers as well as heavy machinery provided by the army and regional authorities were helping in the effort.

Firefighters also battled smaller blazes near ancient Olympia, the western Peloponnese birthplace of the sporting competition that inspired the Olympic Games, near Petalidi further south and on the southern island of Crete. A fire also broke out on Wednesday afternoon in a region of forest in the Lasionos region of Ancient Olympia, in the Peloponnese.

The wildfire in Kehries, Corinth "may not have an active front anymore, but the fire continues to burn in several dispersed pockets along a wide perimeter," Fire Brigade spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, a fire burning in Thermi mountains on western Lesvos island since Tuesday has been contained within a specific area, a Fire Brigade official for the North Aegean said on Wednesday. The situation with the fire in Petalidi, the SW region of Messinia, "looks better", the Fire Brigade said on Wednesday.

Wildfires are common during Greece’s hot, arid summers. Massive blazes in 2007 killed about 80 people in southern and central Greece. The Fire Brigade said Wednesday evening that a total 57 forest fires broke out in 24 hours, most of which were quickly extinguished.

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