A wildfire that started early Saturday afternoon at the foothills of Mount Hymettus in the the southern Athens suburb of Ano Glyfada was still spreading at 8:00 pm local time. In the late afternoon hours, officials began evacuating residents of several areas in the neighboring Ano Voula and Vari. People continued being evacuated as the blaze spread towards them.
About 90 percent of Voula had been evacuated by 8:45 pm, according to the Mayor of Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni, Grigoris Konstantellos. The blaze had passed through the city and caused material damage, he told Greek network Ant1 TV.
Ongoing firefighting efforts as cause of wildfire investigated
According to an update from the Hellenic Fire Service at 7:10 pm, operating against the wildfire were: 102 firefighters with thirty fire engines, three ground teams, six water-bombing aircraft, five helicopters, and municipal water tanks.
More fire engines, firefighters, and ground teams were expected from Central Greece and the Peloponnese.
Greek network SKAI TV reported that two additional aircraft were also to join the firefighting efforts.
However, aircraft will be only able to perform until sunset while ground teams will continue to operate throughout the night.
The Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Police have been called to assist the firefighting efforts, as well.
“Due to the strong north, northeast winds, whose gusts reached 8 Beaufort, the fire quickly spread and was directed towards the urban fabric,” Yiannis Artopoios, a spokesperson of the fire department said in a briefing.
The competent authorities were already underway in investigating the causes of the wildfire.
Athens suburb wildfire triggers precautionary evacuation
In the late afternoon hours, Civil Protection issued the first text message emergency warning to residents of Ano Voula and neighboring areas to evacuate their homes, as the wildfire that started from Ano Glyfada moved closer to the Panorama area in Voula.
Police officers were also going door-to-door telling residents to evacuate to the area’s Alsos Square, as per instructions in the civil protection’s emergency text message.
One nursing home with three hundred residents and one SOS Children’s Village with eighty residents were also evacuated.
Several road traffic diversions have been implemented in the area as high winds fanned the fire into burning groves and parks in the area.
Some twenty residential homes are reported to have been damaged by the flames.