A blaze close to the Greek capital has blanketed Athens in smoke. The fire started in forest scrub about twenty kilometres to the west and strong winds blew the smoke into the city.
At least 30 fire fighters with pumps and helicpoters fought the flames. No homes were affected but police closed part of the northern highway as a precaution. Greece is just one of a number of southern European countries plagued by fires this year. In Corsica two volunteer firemen have been removed from duty after one confessed and the other was arrested for arson. Around six thousand hectares of land have been laid waste on the island. For those those found guilty of arson, there is a minimum penalty of 150,000 euros with the threat of a fifteen year jail sentence. In Corsica since the beginning of the fires eight people have been arrested for fire raising, including two farmers who’ve were jailed yesterday. In Spain around five hundred people who were evacuated in the Las Hurdes region in the west are going back home. It’s reckoned nationally that around 20,000 hectares of land have been destroyed, 12,000 of them in Aragon in the north east, the most badly affected region.