Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of greater Athens, as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside towns on either side of the Greek capital.
One fire was burning Monday northeast of Athens in the Penteli area, moving into the town of Rafina. In nearby Mati, the coast guard was sending a patrol boat to evacuate people trapped on a beach by the flames.
The second wildfire was ravaging mountainous pine forests 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Athens. The blaze has created such thick smoke that the main highways between the Peloponnese and the Greek mainland have been shut down and an orange haze has descended on Athens.
Speaking from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras raised concerns about the simultaneous fire fronts which broke out.
“I am concerned about the three fronts, parallel fires. My thoughts are there,” he said referring also to the fire that broke out earlier in Crete.
Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas hinted that the large fire, on the Geraneia mountain range, could be the result of arson and that this will be investigated by authorities.
“These fires are not that innocent,” said Toskas.