Firefighters contain major blaze near Athens



Athens, Aug 12 - Greek firefighters on Monday brought under control a major forest fire that was threatening homes in the outskirts of Athens, officials said.

The civil protection authority said the fire erupted around 3am (0000 GMT) in the eastern suburb of Peania, in the foothills of Mount Ymittos.

"It was a huge fire with flames around 20 metres (60 feet) high, near homes," civil protection chief Nikos Hardalias told Antenna TV.

Over 130 firemen were dispatched to the scene to keep the fire from spreading to heavily inhabited areas a few kilometres (miles) away.

Fire-bombing aircraft joined the operation at first light.

Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend amid gale-force winds and temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).

On Sunday, firefighters brought under control a fire on the small island of Elafonissos,in the Peloponnese region after a two-day battle.

The fire is estimated to have burned a quarter of the island, forcing authorities to evacuate a campsite and hotel facilities.


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