Wildfires in Attica, Evia, Lakonia

ANA-MPA — The situation with all four major fires that broke out on Friday remains difficult, with strong winds hampering the efforts to put out the flames, fire brigade spokesman Nikos Tsogas said in the first briefing to the press on the ongoing fire fronts.

He said the problems were most acute with the fire in Neapoli, Lakonia but the fires in Kareas, a suburb on the outskirts of Athens, as well as fires near Halkida and the Malakasa region in Attica were still in full progress. Authorities have evacuated 50 nuns in the Agios Ioannis Nunnery in Kareas, a ‘Smile of the Child’ children’s’ home and three summer camps near Malakasa as a precaution.

According to Tsogas, 34 wildfires in farmland and forest areas have broken out on Friday while conditions will remain dangerous on Saturday due to high winds and temperatures.

Fire fighting forces at Kareas include 140 fire-fighters, 70 fire engines, 15 men on foot and 10 municipality water-trucks, in addition to seven water-bombing aircraft and four helicopters dousing the flames from the air.

The effort is currently focused on containing the perimeter of the fire and the number of fronts so that the flames don’t reach nearby residences.

The spokesman asked Attica residents to avoid non-essential movements in their cars in order to allow fire-fighting vehicles clear access and to follow the instructions of fire fighting forces and police participating in the operations in the area.

The fire in Lakonia has so far caused damage to three farmhouses in Faraklo and two farmhouses in Lahi, while the village of Agios Nikolaos has been evacuated and 200 people transported by boat from the beach to Neapoli.

The fire started during the night and is burning mainly low vegetation and olive groves in the areas surrounding Neapoli, Lakonia. There are currently 120 fire-fighters and 51 fire engines at the scene, assisted by another 39-person team on foot, local authority water-carrying vehicles, three planes and two helicopters.

A fire near Nea Artaki in Evia is continuing to burn and a Roma camp in the Afrati area was evacuated earlier on Friday. A force of 44 fire-fighters, 16 fire engines, six people on foot, a digger and one aircraft have been sent to put out the flames.

The Malakasa fire that started at 15:29 is burning through stands of mature forest and authorities have evacuated children staying at summer camps in the area. The fire is now heading toward a quarry.

There are 30 fire-fighters, 10 fire engines, a 10-person team on foot and two aircraft fighting the flames.

In the meantime, fire brigade investigators from the department for dealing with crimes of arson, assisted by police details, have launched inquiries into the causes of each fire.

Tsogas said that the government submitted requests for assistance to the European civil protection mechanisms, asking for four additional aircraft, and is now awaiting a reply