Wildfires raging out of control in Greece have now reached the outskirts of Athens itself. More than 60 fires have been reported across the country, the worst burning west of the historic town of Marathon; gale force winds are pushing the flames towards the capital. The explosion of wildfires has seen hundreds of rescuers drafted into action. Even the army has been called in, with tanks, to help clear firebreaks and evacuate local people.
Smoke from the Marathon fires are drifting across Athens and the flames are already approaching the northeastern suburbs. “The fire service, the local authorities and volunteers are fighting an uphill battle,” said Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. “I must highlight the sacrifice of those working in such perilous conditions.” The blaze is now more than 20 kms across, and advancing rapidly. Firefighters are almost helpless in the face of such power, although miraculously there are no reports of anyone being injured. A state of emergency has been declared in Athens, with the hot windy weather set to continue.