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Greece: Wildfires rage in holiday town near Athens

Firefighters are struggling to contain a fast-moving forest fire in a popular coastal holiday spot northeast of the Greek capital. Dozens of homes have been damaged and residents have been ordered to flee.

Several hundred people from the coastal village of Kalamos heeded warnings from emergency services early Monday to leave their homes.

More than 160 firefighters supported by water-dropping helicopters and planes were sent to the region, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Athens, as strong winds helped the blaze to spread through pine forest to the nearby town of Varnavas.

"There are many fronts but the biggest one is at Varnavas. There is a lot of water consumption as people hose down their homes and as a result not enough water," the vice-prefect of eastern Attica, Nikos Filippou, told Skai TV.

A helicopter drops water over a forest fire burning in Kalamos village

A helicopter drops water over a forest fire burning in Kalamos village

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Twitter called on all government agencies to join firefighting efforts.

Fire brigade officials said no injuries had been reported, but dozens of homes had been damaged or destroyed.

Flames engulf a house in Kalamos

Several homes have been destroyed by the blaze

Extreme summer

The blaze broke out late Sunday, prompting hundreds of Kalamos residents to seek refuge on the beach overnight.

"It was a terrible mess, that's what it was. You could see homes on fire, people running, people desperate, it was chaos and the fire was very big," one man told Reuters TV.

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Authorities said it was too early to tell what caused the fire.

Summer wildfires, often accompanied by dry winds and scorching temperatures, aren't uncommon in Greece. Firefighters were also battling several blazes on the western Greek island of Zakynthos, stretching resources to their limits. According to the country's fire service, there were "well-founded suspicions of foul play" after eight fires broke out there over the weekend.

nm/kms (Reuters, AP, dpa)

 

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