Devastating fires continued to devour forests and homes in Greece for the eleventh day in a row on Saturday.
The fires, which claimed two lives on Friday, prompted massive evacuation efforts into Saturday.
At least 1,450 Greek firefighters, supported by reinforcements from other countries, continued to wage an intense battle against five major fires north of Athens and on the island of Euboea, some 200 km east of the capital, as well as three fires on the Peloponnese peninsula to the west, the fire service said.
North of Athens, the fires continued to spread vigorously towards the east and Lake Marathon, the capital’s biggest water reservoir, after forcing the evacuation of about 10 localities. Overnight, thick smoke and sharp fumes from the fires continued to spread above the capital, and strong winds were expected during the day on Saturday.
The highway linking Athens to the north of the country has been closed as a precautionary measure, while nearby migrants’ camps were evacuated.
Police made two arrests in connection with the fires on Friday afternoon, according to the Greek news agency, ANA.
A 43-year-old man was charged with arson, after being arrested in the Krioneri sector, where homes and businesses were devastated by fire, the agency reported.
A woman was arrested in an Athens park after the authorities banned people from entering parks and forests due to the “extreme danger of fires.” She had two lighters, fuel and inflammable material in her possession, the news agency indicated.
On Euboea, over 1,300 persons were evacuated overnight by boat from the coastal village of Limni, which was surrounded by flames. Over 20 others were rescued on Saturday morning from Rovies Beach, also on the island, according to Greek media. Local authorities have called for additional air support to fight the fires more effectively in Eubeoa.
At Fire Department Headquarters in Athens on Saturday morning, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised rapid reforestation of the affected areas. “When this nightmarish summer ends, we shall repair all the damage as soon as possible,” he told reporters, promising that “the burnt-out areas will be given priority classification for reforestation.”
On the Peloponnese, hundreds of hectares were up in flames east of the archaeological site of Olympus and in the Mani and Messenia regions.
Over 5,000 inhabitants and tourists were forced to flee the disaster in Mani, where Mayor Eleni Drakoulakou estimated at over 50% of the area was devastated by fire in the east of the mountainous region, a major tourist destination.
Speaking on ERT TV, Drakoulakou denounced the absence of water bombers during the critical early hours of the fire.