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Almost all of Greece put on high risk of fire as country faces another heatwave

Simon Calder’s Travel

Greek authorities evacuated a children’s hospital and a retirement home on Tuesday after a large wildfire broke out.

Firefighters were called to the outskirts of the southern city of Patras after a summer wildfire flared in the area amid hot, windy weather.

Other blazes were raging in at least three parts of Greece on Tuesday. The country is set for a fresh heatwave with Athens forecast temperatures of 37C on Thursday

Fire service spokesman Vasilis Vathrakoyiannis said the evacuations were carried out as a precaution and a large firefighting effort was paying off. No injuries were reported. Around two dozen children in all were evacuated, health officials said.

Vathrakoyiannis said no houses were under threat from the blaze, which raged through a pine forest on the fringes of the city that’s some 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Athens.

“The fire took on enormous dimensions very fast,” he told state-run ERT television.

“The front and its dynamic have been contained.”“We’re just dealing with scattered points of fire now,” he added.

About 80 firefighters, assisted by 10 water-dropping aircraft, were trying to extinguish the blaze.

A view of fire around the island of Kos, Greece, July 1
A view of fire around the island of Kos, Greece, July 1 (Via REUTERS)

The country suffers from devastating wildfires every summer, and last year more than 20 people died in the blazes.

Authorities have warned of a high wildfire risk this week.

Vassilis Kikilas, the minister responsible for civil protection, said a lack of winter rains, combined with high temperatures in the spring, make this summer the most difficult in the past 20 years for dealing with wildfires.

“Most of the country is at a high and a very high risk of fire (on Wednesday) due to the heat and very strong winds,” he said.

Civil protection authorities said nearly 1,300 wildfires broke out across the country last month, more than twice as many as in June 2023.

The British government has issued a warning to those traveling to Greece. The FDCO writes: “There is a high risk of wildfires during the summer season from April to October.

“Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. To avoid starting wildfires: leave no litter, especially not glass which is known to start fires. Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished and do not light barbecues.

“Causing a wildfire or a forest fire is a…

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