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Fires threaten Athens’ hillside suburbs for second day

About 500 firefighters are battling to contain a large blaze that continues to threaten mountain outskirts outside Athens for a second day, after hundreds of residents were evacuated overnight.

At least two people were hospitalized with breathing difficulties and minor burns, while local officials said several houses were gutted by the fire around Mount Penteli, 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the Greek capital.

A firefighter stands in front of two burning cars in the Panorama Palinis area of ​​eastern Athens
A firefighter stands in front of two burning cars in the Panorama Palinis area of ​​eastern Athens (Thanasis Stavrakis/AP)

Winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour (50mph) were making air support difficult for firefighters, he said.

Greece has avoided the heatwave currently affecting Western European countries, but fire officials say hot and dry conditions that have lasted for weeks, as well as long-term temperature rises, have increased the overall risk of forest fires.

Five seaplanes and four helicopters were working Wednesday to battle the blaze north of Athens, officials said, adding that more than 600 people have been evacuated from their homes so far.

A firefighting helicopter drops water as a fire burns in the Drafi area, east of Athens
A firefighting helicopter drops water as a fire burns in the area of ​​Drafira, east of Athens (Thanasis Stavrakis/AP)


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