Dozen homes burn, five people hospitalised in Greece wildfire

About a dozen homes burned and five people were hospitalised with breathing problems as firefighters fought a forest fire near Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, authorities said.

Some 145 firefighters, 50 trucks, eight firefighting planes and helicopters have been mobilised to extinguish the fire in the Zeria region in the Peloponnese, about 210km (124 miles) west of Athens, the firefighting service said on Saturday.

The authorities evacuated people from four villages in the region as well as from the tourist resort of Loggos on the coast.

About a dozen homes burned and five people experiencing breathing problems were transported to hospitals in the region, the civil protection authority said.

Firefighters told The Associated Press news agency that the fire was large and advancing on multiple fronts, although winds had abated somewhat.

Greece is hit by forest fires every summer, but experts have warned that global warming increases their frequency and intensity [Andreas Alexopoulos/AP]

Hospitals in Patras and the neighbouring city of Aigio had been put on notice to admit any injured people, while the coastguard has been on standby to rescue any swimmers overcome by smoke.

The Greek press agency ANA said the highway between the Peloponnese and continental Greece had been closed.

Greece is hit by forest fires every summer, but experts have warned that global warming increases their frequency and intensity.

Greece has been in the grip of another heatwave since Friday, with temperatures hovering between 42 and 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit), weather forecasters say.

Several days ago, a fire ravaged Mount Penteli, close to the capital Athens, but caused no casualties.

It was the same area where a fire in July 2018 went on to kill 102 people in Greece’s worst-ever toll from a forest inferno.

The wildfire near Lampiri village, west of Patras, started high up on a mountain slope but has moved dangerously close to seaside towns [Andreas Alexopoulos/AP]

A total of 56 wildfires have broken out in the past 24 hours in Greece, aided by a combination of dry weather, a heatwave and strong winds. Most were put out at an early stage, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said.

The heatwave is expected to peak Monday, with temperatures inland ranging from 42 to 46 degrees Celsius (107.6 to 114.8 Fahrenheit).

Temperatures will remain at 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) or above in much of Greece until at least Friday, meteorologists say.

In neighbouring Turkey, the death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six on Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said.

Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.

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