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Emergency services battle huge fire raging through suburban Athens

Following a forest fire spreading to the northern suburbs of Athens, Greek firefighters were battling to contain the flames using firefighting planes and helicopters to drop thousands of litres of water on the blaze.

Athens, 3 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Following a forest fire spreading to the northern suburbs of Athens, Greek firefighters were battling to contain the flames using firefighting planes and helicopters to drop thousands of litres of water on the blaze.

The flames were spreading from house to house in the suburbs of Varybobi and Acharnes on Tuesday afternoon and Greek state television broadcast footage of houses ablaze.

“Leave your homes immediately,” the mayor of Acharnes, Spyros Vrettos, told state television. Residents of the region also received a warning by text message from the Civil Defence. Thick clouds of smoke were visible from all over Athens.

Residents of the affected neighbourhoods left their homes in panic. “Behind us is hell,” one resident shouted from his car to reporters on the scene.

Several confused horses could be seen running through the streets of Varybobi on Tuesday afternoon after the owners of a riding club, having seen the fast-approaching blaze, turned the animals loose to save their lives.

The fire was spreading rapidly from the nearby forests to inhabited areas, the region’s governor Giorgos Patoulis announced, calling on all people to leave the area immediately.

Meteorologists have for days been warning that fires of this magnitude could break out, as the country remains in the grip of a heatwave that is not expected to let up all week, with temperatures climbing above 40 degrees Celsius.

Authorities have warned the public that the risk of fire will remain very high even after the end of the heatwave, mainly due to the country’s ongoing drought, and the forecast high winds.

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