Greek firemen battle wildfire in southern Greece

Greek firemen were battling on Thursday to control a large wildfire fanned by strong winds near the seaside resort of Kechries on Peloponnese peninsula, southern Greece.

The blaze which broke out on Wednesday has forced the evacuation of at least six settlements and two children’s summer camps as a precautionary step.

Winds blowing up to 10 on the Beaufort scale were reigniting the flames raging in several fronts. So far the fire has mainly scorched forest land with no injuries reported.

At least 268 firefighters were deployed in the area, assisted by some 10 helicopters and planes, and no human lives were in danger, Fire Service Chief Lieutenant General Stefanos Kolokouris told media on the site.

“The area is inaccessible in many parts, there is thick forest and colleagues could be trapped. We are in a better place than yesterday. We are all doing our best. The most significant thing is that no human lives are at risk,” he said.

“It is manageable thanks to the coordinated efforts of authorities,” Anastasios Stefis, president of Agios Ioannis, one of the settlements that were evacuated, told Xinhua.

The evacuation lasted one hour and was made as the flames were about 2.5 kilometres near the village, he said.

“There is a big destruction. Major damages have been reported in farmland as well, including olive groves and vineyards. Livestock facilities have been destroyed, sheep and goats have been burnt,” he said.

“So far there has been no casualty,” he stressed.

The Fire Service faced 72 wildfires within the past 24 hours across the country, according to an e-mailed press statement.

While experts were investigating the causes, five people have been detained in the past week for starting fires on purpose or due to negligence, the Fire Service announced.

Greece faces many destructive wildfires each summer. On July 23, 2018, Greece was shocked by the deadliest tragedy linked to a wildfire in decades. A wildfire swept the coastal resort of Mati, causing 102 deaths.