Wildfire fanned by strong winds rages uncontrolled on Greece’s Serifos island

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ATHENS (Reuters) -A wildfire fanned by gale-force winds raged uncontrolled on the Greek island of Serifos on Sunday, prompting authorities to order several hamlets to evacuate.

Nearly a dozen firefighters with four fire engines battled the fire on the Aegean island that broke out on low vegetation but spread quickly amid strong winds, and more were expected to join them through the night, a fire brigade official said.

With hot, windy conditions across much of the country, about 50 wildfires broke out on Saturday and authorities advised people to stay out of forest areas.

A wildfire in a mountainous forest area just outside the Greek capital eased earlier on Saturday but some 160 firefighters were still battling to extinguish the flames, officials said.

Gusts exceeding 100 kph (62 mph) hampered their efforts to contain the fire on Mount Parnitha, some 20 km (12 miles) north of Athens, which had threatened to spread to a nature reserve, while water-carrying plans stopped operating through the night.

“The fire has no active front but we still have a long way to go and will work on it all night,” Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in a televised statement.

No homes were threatened by the fire.

Winds are not expected to weaken before Sunday, meteorologists said.

Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean country, but they have become more devastating in recent years as summers have become hotter, drier and windier, which scientists link to the effects of climate change.

© Reuters. Mount Parnitha, near Athens, Greece, June 29, 2024. REUTERS/Elias Marcou

After last summer’s deadly forest fires and following its warmest winter on record, Greece developed a new doctrine, which includes deploying an extra fire truck to each new blaze, speeding up air support and clearing forests.

A big part of Mount Parnitha’s nature reserve, full of pines and fir trees, was destroyed by a large fire in 2007.

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