2 wildfires burning near Greece's capital, fueled by strong winds

GREECE. A firefighter struggles to extinguish a forest fire at Keratea area, southeast of Athens, Greece, Sunday, June 30, 2024.
GREECE. A firefighter struggles to extinguish a forest fire at Keratea area, southeast of Athens, Greece, Sunday, June 30, 2024.AP

ATHENS, Greece -- Two large wildfires were burning Sunday, June 30, 2024, near Greece's capital of Athens, and authorities sent emergency messages for some residents to evacuate and others to stay at home and close their windows to protect themselves from smoke.

The first blaze, southeast of Athens, began in early afternoon. Local authorities said it burned at least four homes and several cars. No casualties were reported by 6 p.m.

The blaze was approaching the port of Lavrio about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Athens. The area has suffered from wildfires in recent years. A small forest to the south, near Cape Sounio, also could be in danger.

A second, fast-moving fire later began north of Athens near the suburb of Stamata. It was burning through scrubland and forest and moving up 1,100-meter (3,600-foot) Mount Penteli, one of four mountains ringing the capital area.

A total of 230 firefighters, 17 planes and 12 helicopters were trying to put out both fires, the Fire Service said. The planes and helicopters can only operate in daylight.

Hot and dry weather, combined with strong winds, are helping spread the fires. Temperatures in the low 30s Celsius (high 80s F) are expected to rise Monday and Tuesday.

Wildfires have become an annual feature in the Mediterranean. Earlier this month, Greece and Turkey saw large fires. (AP)

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