Wildfires in Greece and Turkey go out of control

Wildfires in Greece and Turkey go out of control

Wildfires in Greece and Turkey go out of control

Thousands of people have fled wildfires that are burning out of control in Greece and Turkey, including a large blaze just north of Athens that left one person dead, as a protracted heatwave turned forests into tinderboxes and flames threatened populated areas, electricity installations and historical sites.

Turkey’s wildfires, described as the worst in decades, have swept through swathes of the southern coast for the past 10 days, killing eight people. Hundreds of firefighters are trying to control the fires with nearly 20 water-bombing aircraft. Extra firefighters and planes are being sent in from countries including France and the US.

The fires near Athens have burned around the main highway linking the capital to northern Greece and by early on Friday had formed a wide front threatening residential areas of Thrakomadedones, Stamata and Agios Stefanos. The area is a prosperous and tranquil zone prized for its forests.

Police have been going door to door, urging people to leave their homes before it is too late. Authorities have opened shelters and hotels have made rooms available to accommodate people forced to flee. In Turkey, authorities on Friday evacuated six more neighbourhoods near the Mugla province town of Milas as a wildfire fanned by winds burned 3 miles (5km) away from a power plant. At least 36,000 people were evacuated to safety in Mugla province alone, officials said.

The fire halted traffic on the country’s main highway connecting Athens to northern Greece and damaged electricity installations. The power distribution company announced rolling cuts in the wider capital region to protect the electrical grid.

The fires also disrupted Covid-19 vaccinations. The health ministry announced the suspension of vaccinations at centres in fire-affected areas, saying appointments could be rescheduled when conditions allowed.More than 1,000 firefighters and nearly 20 aircraft are now battling major fires across Greece, while extra firefighters, planes, helicopters and vehicles were arriving from France, Switzerland, Romania, Cyprus, Croatia, Israel and Sweden.