Forest fires spreading in Greece

By Christine PirovolakisĀ 

Athens (dpa) – Firefighters battled to contain three major forest

fires which were being fanned by strong winds near the Greek capital

on Saturday, forcing officials to evacuate camps, monasteries and

homes.

The fires, the first to hit Greece this summer, raged to the

north and south-east of Athens late Saturday afternoon, sending

clouds of thick, black smoke over the city.

Authorities said they were forced to evacuate several children’s

camps, a monastery and holiday homes as a precaution, but said no

homes were at immediate risk and no injuries were reported from the

fires.

Many residents could be seen armed with buckets and water hoses in

an attempt to douse flames near their properties.

More than 90 firefighters, eight planes, three helicopters and 27

trucks battled to put out the flames before dusk.

Greece is often hit by forest fires during the hot, dry summer

months, leading to the destruction of thousands of acres of forest

and entire villages in recent years.