Dozens of firefighters are battling the flames of two large wildfires that broke out south and west of Athens on Monday.
The first blaze broke out in the Kouvaras area in Attica in the early afternoon, and a warning was sent via the emergency number 112 to evacuate several settlements in southeast Attica.
Strong winds are fanning the flames, making the work of firefighters particularly difficult.
The fire has reached the south coast of Attica. The fire service has asked the residents of Saronida, Anavyssos and Lagonisi to evacuate towards Athens. Homes were burned at Lagonisi and Saronida but there are no reports of casualties.
— g.goudaras (@GGoudaras) July 17, 2023
A force of 55 firefighters and 20 fire engines, two units on foot and 31 Romanian firefighters with five water tankers have been deployed to put out the fire, assisted by six fire-fighting aircraft and four helicopters – including one acting as coordinator – from the air.
— Σεραφειμικός (@OrthodoxoPasok) July 17, 2023
According to the latest update from the police, Lavrio Avenue has been closed to vehicles in both directions between Sounion Avenue and the Kouvara rural road.
Wildfire at Loutraki, west of Athens
Later a second wildfire broke out in the area of Loutraki, west of Athens. The fire brigade said the fire has started due to unknown causes in a forest in Loutraki’s Kallithea location, with a strong firefighting force deployed to put out the flames as strong winds were blowing in the area.
Shortly after, a message sent from emergency number 112 ordered the evacuation of the areas Kallithea, Pefkia and Irene in Corinth as a precaution. Residents have been instructed to head toward the coastal city of Loutraki.
Greek police has also stopped the traffic on the Athens-Corinth national highway from the Agioi Theodori intersection to the Epidaurus intersection due to fires southeast of Loutraki.
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Greek authorities issued a wildfire warning
According to the fire hazard prediction map published by the Civil Protection Agency, five regions are considered to be at very high risk of wildfires, ranking at Level 4 (orange) out of a maximum of 5.
They are Attica, Central Greece (Viotia, Evia), the Peloponnese (Corinthia and Argolida), the South Aegean (Rhodes) and the North Aegean (Chios, Samos and Ikaria).
Residents and visitors are advised not to engage in any dangerous activities such as building campfires, holding barbecues or burning plant trimmings in at-risk regions, and especially in wooded areas.
They are also urged to be especially mindful of littering, as trash like tin cans, cigarette butts or plastic bottles can spark or accelerate a blaze.
The flammability of dead forest fuel is critically high. Based on the analysis of available forecast data, the moisture content of dead forest fuels (flammability index) is expected to drop below 10% in several areas of eastern mainland Greece, remaining at these levels even during the night.
On alert to prevent 2021 chaos
Greek authorities are on alert to prevent a repeat of the catastrophic wildfires of 2021 which killed 3 people, injured at least 20 others and burned dozens of homes, after a historic heatwave for the country, with the highest temperatures reaching 47.1 °C (116.8 °F).
The largest wildfires were in Attica, Olympia, Messenia, and the most destructive in northern Evia.