Greek firefighters hopeful of containing forest blaze

·1-min read

Hundreds of Greek firefighters fought to master a large forest blaze burning for a second day on Friday, with better weather conditions providing hope the flames could be subdued.

Nearly 300 firefighters battled throughout the night to keep the fire contained on the Geraneia mountain range, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Athens.

"Conditions are much better (today)," fire department spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told Skai TV, adding that emergency services were "hopeful" that the fire could be contained with the contribution of water bombers.

Fifteen aircraft were assisting operations on Friday.

The state civil protection agency on Thursday said hundreds of people had been preventively evacuated from 17 villages and hamlets in the surrounding area, as well as from two monasteries.

Around 20 square kilometres (eight square miles) of pine forest are estimated to have been razed already.

Wildfires pose a challenge for Greece every year during the dry summer season, with strong winds and temperatures frequently exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

In 2018, 102 people died in the coastal resort of Mati, near Athens, in Greece's worst ever fire disaster.

jph/reb

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