On Tuesday, a Greek wildfire blazed in the hilly region of Penteli near Athens, causing officials to urge the evacuation of at least four communities including a hospital.
Heavy clouds of smoke billowed into the sky above Mount Penteli, where the fire broke out around 1430 GMT, some 27 kilometers (16 miles) north of downtown Athens.
Images showed the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis hill glowing crimson from the fire in the backdrop. According to witnesses, the flames were visible from the island of Evia, some 50 kilometers distant, by evening.
Local media stated that the fire had destroyed at least one home, but the fire department refused to corroborate the allegation. According to the fire department, there were no injuries.
About 420 firemen, aided by 85 engines, were battling the incident, which was raging on many fronts by late afternoon. Earlier, more than 24 helicopters and aircraft dropped water on the flames, but activities were halted at night for safety concerns.
The evacuation of four localities was ordered by authorities: Drafi, Anthousa, Dioni, and Dasamari. Residents in other locations were also told to prepare to flee.
As a precaution, one hospital and the National Observatory of Athens were evacuated. Traffic on highways heading to Penteli was suspended, and police were assisting locals in finding their way out of the fire-ravaged neighborhoods.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis presided over a teleconference with civil protection officials on the fire.
“Today is a difficult day. We are at the peak of the fire season and the current conditions make it easier for fires to break out and spread,” said Fire Department spokesperson Yiannis Artopios in a statement.
Artopios previously told state television ERT that the fire was “difficult” and that 28 Romanian firemen were aiding local firefighters.
“We are fighting it, we are trying to circle the fire,” Artopios added.
Winds were expected to continue until Wednesday afternoon.
During Greece’s warmest months of July and August, more than 200 firemen and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway, and Finland will be on standby.
Wildfires burned over 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of woodland and bushland in various areas of Greece last year, during the country’s worst heat wave in 30 years.