Greece: Pensioner commits suicide after seeing home burning during wildfire

An elderly man committed suicide after seeing his home burning during a large wildfire raging in the northeastern suburbs of Athens, Greek media reported Wednesday.

The man shot himself after watching his home engulfed by flames for a third time in recent years, Greek national broadcaster ERT reported, citing police sources as well as neighbors and relatives of the victim.

Meanwhile, a yet unclear number of residencies, businesses and other buildings has been destroyed or damaged, local officials said.

The wildfire, which broke out on Tuesday afternoon, has burned on several fronts and spanned kilometers, forcing the evacuations of thousands of residents on Tuesday evening and during the night.

“It was a difficult night in the Penteli fire. The wind speed, as recorded in the area, exceeded 80 km/h at its maximum,” Fire Service spokesperson Ioannis Artopoios told a televised emergency press briefing on Wednesday morning.

A total of 485 firefighters were battling the flames, supported by military and police forces, as well as volunteers, he said.

Despite the strong winds hampering efforts to control the blaze, waterbombing aircrafts and helicopters resumed operations after sunrise, he added.

Greece suffers wildfires each summer linked to heatwaves or arson. Last summer a series of blazes scorched over 100,000 hectares of forestland and farmland and damaged some 2,000 houses and businesses in several parts of the country. In 2018, 102 people died in the coastal resort of Mati, near Athens, in Greece’s worst-ever fire disaster. ■

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