ATHENS: Greece battled three major wildfires across the country on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people as warmer temperatures raised fears of more fires.
The country is in the grip of a heat wave that started on Saturday and is expected to last for 10 days. Temperatures are expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.
Experts blame climate change for soaring temperatures – and warn that worse is yet to come.
Fires raged in the north, east and south of Greece, including the island of Lesbos.
A California wildfire is raging while the US is burning with a record heat wave
A fire raged on Lesbos on Sunday after it broke out a day earlier, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of tourists and residents of the coastal village of Vatera.
At least four houses were destroyed, state TV ERT reported, and the fires damaged an unknown number of shops, hotels and beach bars in the village.
Dozens of firefighters were required to bring the blaze under control on Sunday morning, with four water-dropping aircraft and two helicopters operating.
A forest fire has been burning for the fourth day in Dadia National Park, known for its colony of black vultures, in the northeastern region of Evros.
The fire has already destroyed nearly 500 hectares (1,220 acres) of forest.
More than 300 firefighters battled to control the fire in Evros, and the village of Dadias had to be evacuated late Saturday due to thick smoke. It is not known how many people were evacuated.
“The most important thing for us is the safety of the villagers and all forces will be deployed there,” Evros Governor Dimitris Petrovits told the Athens News Agency.
The fire has already passed the bird observatory and approached the facilities of the management unit of the protected area.
Petrovits said collecting and treating injured animals is a priority for authorities.
In the Peloponnese, the southern peninsula, a fire that broke out on Saturday morning forced the evacuation of the village of Chrysokelaria.
A wildfire in the mountains near Athens also damaged homes on Wednesday and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people due to gale-force winds earlier this week.
The worst forest fire in Greece in 2018 claimed 102 lives in the coastal suburb of Mati, east of Athens.
The latest fires followed a heat wave and wildfires that destroyed 103,000 hectares (255,000 acres) in Greece last year and claimed three lives.
Fires in parts of France, Spain and Portugal have already burned more land this year than blazes destroyed in all of 2021.
The area, about 517,881 hectares, is equal to the size of Trinidad and Tobago.
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