ATHENS – Greek authorities on Thursday ordered more evacuations to an island near Athens and battled a blaze near the site of the ancient Olympics as wildfires raged for a third day.
Temperatures of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit and strong winds have fueled more than 150 forest fires in different parts of the country in recent days, adding to conflagrations in Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean.
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More than a dozen villages have been evacuated on the island of Evia near Athens since Tuesday, with some 85 people rescued by boat from a beach, as the forest fire burned pines and sent clouds Of ash and smoke spiraling through the air. Miles away, the sky of Athens darkens.
Authorities cleared more people in Evia on Thursday as church bells rang, warning that the fire was approaching. More than 170 firefighters with 52 engines and six planes were operating in the area.
Two villages were evacuated in the Peloponnese region on Wednesday as a fire raged near the archaeological site of the ancient Olympics.
After an all-night battle with the flames, firefighters appear to have saved the site of ancient Olympia, with the ancient treasures out of danger, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told ANT1 television.
The site, where the Olympic flame begins its journey to the host city of the modern Olympic Games, is one of Greece’s most popular tourist attractions. He was also threatened by a fire in 2007.
Reinforcements arrived from Cyprus and France and two planes from Sweden were expected later Thursday as firefighters braced for another difficult day.
The fires that had threatened homes in the northern suburbs of Athens on Tuesday were under control, with firefighters and planes still working in the area.
In Turkey, flames that threatened a coal-fired power plant in the fire-ravaged southwest of the country have been extinguished, local authorities said Thursday, after workers and residents were evacuated overnight by boat when ‘a fire broke out inside the factory.
Firefighters continued to fight the fires that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described as the worst Turkey has ever suffered, devastating tens of thousands of hectares of forest and forcing thousands of Turks and tourists to flee.
Eight people have died since the fires started last week and environmentalists had warned of a new danger as flames encroached on the power plant.