Thousands of residents have been forced to flee their houses north of Athens as firefighting planes launched operations in Greece before dawn on Wednesday to combat a massive forest fire on the outskirts.
A forest fire had previously spread to residential neighborhoods. The hasty evacuations came as Greece was hit by its worst heatwave in decades, prompting thousands of people to flee their homes.
During one of the country’s most extreme heatwaves in decades, more than 500 firefighters worked through the night to put out a major forest fire on the outskirts of Athens on Tuesday, forcing thousands of people to escape. It was the most severe of 81 wildfires that erupted in Greece in the previous 24 hours.
The fire service said five water-dropping planes and nine helicopters were assisting over 500 firemen, soldiers, and several volunteer groups on the ground.
95 firemen, two planes, four ground teams, and 35 cars were battling the flames in Evia, while 74 firefighters, three ground teams, 22 vehicles, and one helicopter were combating the blaze in the Messinia district of the Peloponnese, according to the fire department.
The fire was fueled by tinder-dry conditions caused by a protracted heat wave that began last week and sent temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F).
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. The fire burned homes, businesses and vehicles, and sent a large cloud of smoke over Athens on Tuesday night.
The government announced that it will provide hotel rooms for local residents for as long as they are unable to return home.