A fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon in Varympompi, a northern suburb of Athens. Houses in the area, as well as a number in the nearby neighborhood of Adames, have burned down from the blaze.
All residents in areas threatened by the strong fire have been evacuated. Those living in Thrakomakedones will also be required to leave their homes to escape the blaze.
The Greek National Highway, which runs from Athens to Lamia, has been closed due to the flames.
The fire is thought to have started in the nearby heavily forested area of Kryoneri, but has spread significantly throughout the afternoon.
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Homes burned in the fire in Varympompi, near Athens; residents evacuated
Fueled by the country’s record-breaking heatwave, which brought temperatures around 42 degrees Celsius, or 108 degrees Fahrenheit, the blaze has razed a number of houses in the region.
Earlier in the afternoon, the flames cut off electricity for some residents in the area, but their power has been restored.
The fire is inching dangerously close to some businesses and factories, however, and officials have hinted that they may need to be evacuated, but the order has not yet been issued.
Currently, a team of 300 firefighters, assisted by 35 helicopters and ten airplanes, are battling the flames. Extremely strong winds in the region, which help fuel and spread the fire, have made the work of firefighters on the scene particularly difficult.
They’re hoping to contain the fire so as not to spread to nearby Kifisia, which is more densely populated.
Fire in Evia, Greece, evacuations ordered
Another fire broke out in Evia, central Greece, on Tuesday afternoon in addition to the fire in Varympompi. Residents in the areas Retsinolakkos and Kokkini have been ordered to evacuate due to the fire, which has inched dangerously close to residences.
As the area is heavily forested, and winds and temperatures are extremely high, there is a risk that the fire could spread quickly.
Firefighters on the scene are struggling to push back the flames so that they do not endanger the lives or property of nearby residents.
Children were also evacuated from a summer camp and residents fled their homes as the wildfire raged uncontrolled on the outskirts of Athens as Greece experiences its worst heatwave in over three decades.
More than 300 firefighters with 35 vehicles and 10 aircraft battled the blaze in a densely forested area in the suburb of Varibobi, on the lower slopes of Mount Parnitha.
The fire has consumed an unknown number of homes at present, while explosions were heard after the homes went up in flames. Equestrian clubs let their horses loose so that they could have a chance to escape the inferno.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited a firefighting operations center coordinating the efforts to contain the blaze and other fires which are ongoing in the Peloponnesian Peninsula and on the islands of Evia and Kos.
“All available means and resources have been deployed in the fight on multiple fronts,” his office said in a statement. “In these difficult times, the priority is to protect human lives.”
Residents were ordered out of their homes and summer camp children were forced out of their residence in the Athens suburbs of Varibobi, Adames and Thrakomakedones.
Some people have been seen watering their homes down with garden hoses after refusing to leave their property.
Michalis Vrettos, the deputy mayor of the Acharnes region, told Open TV as thick plumes of smoke rose over the houses behind him “Dozens of homes are being burnt.” As of now, there have been no reports of fatalities, but four people have been taken to hospital with breathing difficulties, according to local television reports.
In Athens, the power grid operator acknowledged that the fire had damaged parts of the grid, which posed a major risk to the electrical supply in some parts of the metropolitan area.
The fire also disrupted normal train services.
Historic heatwave fuels fires in Greece
The heatwave that has been gripping Greece since last week broke the country’s highest-ever temperature record on Monday afternoon.
The town of Makrakomi in Greece’s Phthiotis region in the eastern part of the Greek mainland was the hottest place not only in Greece on Monday but also in the entire European continent.
The meteorological station of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) that is stationed there recorded a jaw-dropping 46.3 degrees Celsius (115.3 degrees Fahrenheit).
This temperature is officially the highest ever to be recorded in Greece’s network of hundreds of stations operated by NOA.
For the registration of a temperature record, recordings of private stations that are operated by individuals other than NOA do not count.
Extremely high temperatures were also recorded across the Greek mainland on Monday, with the town of Dendra, northwest of Larissa in Thessaly, reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
The cities of Thebes, Sparta, and Larissa also recorded temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius on Monday.
According to Giannis Kallianos, an MP and meteorologist for Greece’s MEGA TV channel, Greece held the five highest temperatures in Europe on Monday.