Wildfire raging near Athens resort, arson suspected

Greek firefighters were battling a wildfire which was raging on Thursday at Nea Makri coastal resort, about 40 kilometers east of Athens.

Local authorities were set for the en masse evacuation of people, in case it is deemed necessary, while no injuries have been reported, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

About 100 firefighters, assisted by water-dropping airplanes and helicopters after dawn, were trying to keep the flames away from residential zones, according to a Fire Brigade press announcement.

There were suspicions of arson, according to local officials. The blaze broke out in two fronts at a distance of half a kilometer in the early hours in a forested area and had spread across 1.5 kilometers by dawn, Marathon Mayor Stergios Tsirkas told local media.

“There are testimonies regarding a person with suspicious behavior,” Governor of Attica Region Giorgos Patoulis added.

Nea Makri and neighboring districts are part of the municipality of Marathon city. Another wildfire that broke out this summer had spread close to the starting point of the classic Marathon race.

About three kilometers further along the race’s route towards Athens, a wildfire swept the coastal resort of Mati in July 2018, causing 102 deaths. It was the worst fire-linked tragedy in Greece in over a decade.

The country suffers from wildfires every year, mainly due to heatwaves and arson.