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Wildfires in Greece Threaten Athens – August 24th, 2009

37.9N 23.7E

August 24th, 2009 Category: Fires, Image of the day

Fires north of Athens, Greece - August 22nd, 2009

Fires north of Athens, Greece - August 22nd, 2009

Fire on Zante (Zakynthos) - August 21st, 2009

Fire on Zante (Zakynthos) - August 21st, 2009

Fire west of Athens - August 24th, 2009

Fire west of Athens - August 24th, 2009

Blazes near Athens © BBC

Blazes near Athens

Mass evacuations were ordered in Greece across northern Athens suburbs on Sunday as scared residents watched the encroachment of a major fire that raged out of control for the past two days. The main image shows this blaze on August 22nd.

The fires quickly gained momentum due to gale-force winds, with the major front of the flames in the towns of Marathonas and Pendelis only 15 kilometres from the Greek capital’s downtown.

Today, a Greek government spokesman said the immediate danger had passed and a BBC correspondent said many of the fires had now been put out. In the image taken on August 24th, the blaze north of Athens appears to be under control, while a fire to the west is releasing a large plume of smoke.

More than 90 fires are thought to have started since Saturday, fuelled by high temperatures and winds,  and more than 37,000 acres of land have been burnt.

Blazes were also reported to be burning out of control on the Ionian island of Zante (Zakynthos), reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur, scorching nearly 2,000 acres of forest (see image taken August 22nd). Other fires were reported on the eastern Greek islands of Evia and Skyros.

Thousands of residents of the capital’s northern suburbs were forced to leave their homes as dozens of houses and large areas of forest were burnt. Earlier on Sunday, police ordered the 10,000 residents of Agios Stefanos to evacuate the area immediately. While no casualties have been reported, a regional Athens governor, Yiannis Sgouros, has called the fires an “ecological disaster”.

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