By Angeliki Koutantou
ATHENS -Children were evacuated from a summer camp and residents of nearby villages fled their homes on Tuesday as a wildfire raged on the outskirts of Athens, with Greece’s worst heatwave in more than 30 years bringing scorching temperatures.
More than 300 firefighters with 35 vehicles and 10 aircraft battled the blaze in a densely vegetated area in the foothills of Parnitha mountain in the suburb of Varympompi.
About 80 children had to leave the summer camp and villagers were ordered out of their homes in Varympompi, Adames and Thrakomakedones, some 20 km north of the capital, although some stayed behind to defend their houses with garden hoses.
“Dozens of homes are being burnt,” Michalis Vrettos, deputy mayor of Acharnes region told Open TV as thick plumes of smoke rose over the houses behind him. Four people were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties, local TV reported.
In Athens, power grid operator IPTO said the fire had damaged parts of the grid, posing a major risk to electricity supply in areas of the wider metropolitan region and authorities and power operators have called an emergency meeting.
The fire has also disrupted train routes and forced authorities to seal off part of a national motorway.
Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius and high winds have fanned more than 100 wildfires in different areas of Greece in the past couple of days.
The fires add to the conflagrations that have engulfed several areas of the Mediterranean as Europe grapples with a summer of extreme weather from heavy flooding in the north to severe heatwaves and fires in the south.
As the Greek firefighters fought the blazes near Athens and in areas of the Peloponnese peninsula, to the west of the capital region, Turkey was facing a seventh consecutive day of wildfires that have torn through some of its most popular tourist areas.