Firefighters hope to contain a large fire north of Athens

Athens woke up on Wednesday to gray smoke and a pungent odor from a fire north of the Greek capital, at the foot of Mount Parnes, which firefighters hoped to control “in the next few hours.” The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon and dozens of houses, taverns and businesses suffered extensive damage overnight in Varympompi, 30 km northwest of Athens, according to initial estimates by authorities.

It occurs when Greece has been affected for a week by the worst heat wave in three decades, with temperatures exceeding 43 degrees Celsius in some places. “We are facing a difficult fire in extreme abrasive conditions,” said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who visited Varympompi, the main village affected by the fire, located in the pine forest at the foot of Mount Parnes. The Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection, Nikos Hardalias, stressed that “the night was exceptionally difficult.”

“There were four fronts” but “currently the fire is in recession, now there is only one,” he said during a news conference Wednesday morning from the fire operations center in Varympompi. This Wednesday morning, “the situation is better and we hope that the fire will be controlled in the next few hours,” announced the press service of the fire brigade. More than 500 firefighters with five helicopters and a dozen water bombers were still working Wednesday morning.

After Penteli last week, it was Mount Parnes, the second of the three mountains that surround the basin of Athens, that was hit by fire, which spread ash and smoke over the Greek capital. The central square of Varympompi no longer seemed like a ghost town stripped of its inhabitants. More than 300 people had been evacuated from this town and from two other neighboring villages. Almost 200 horses that were in the equestrian centers in the area have been transferred unharmed, according to the Greek Equestrian Confederation.

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Police said they had helped nearly 70 people who were stranded in their homes in communities surrounded by flames. Lung of the capital and a frequent weekend getaway for Athenians, Varympompi is located near the former royal palace of Tatoï, where precious works have been kept as a precautionary measure. Greece was the victim of nearly 80 fires on Tuesday, according to Nikos Hardalias. At least two other fires were still burning in the country on Wednesday: one in the south of the Peloponnese peninsula in Vassilitsi, 300 km south of Athens and the other on the island of Evia, 200 km east of the capital, where they found eight villages. evacuated.

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