Wildfire threatens southern suburb of Athens

ATHENS (AFP) - A wildfire was blazing through ground vegetation in a southern suburb of Athens on Saturday (June 4), the Fire Brigade said, leading to several homes being evacuated.

Some 72 firefighters with 20 fire engines and two ground teams were called in backed by six water-bombing aircraft, three helicopters and municipal water tanks.

High winds drove the flames towards the first houses at Panorama Voulas, causing their evacuation.

Ant1 tv station showed policemen telling people they should leave.

"The situation is very difficult and the wind does not help," said Giannis Konstantatos, who heads a conservation group for nearby mount Imittos.

"The atmosphere is suffocating, we have difficulty breathing," he told Athens News Agency.

Giorgos Papanikolaou, the mayor of Glyfada, where the fire broke out, said it all started at an electricity power station, the agency added.

Last summer, Greece's most severe heatwave in decades, which authorities blamed on climate change, saw fires destroy more than 100,000 hectares of forest and farmland, the country's worst wildfire damage since 2007.

More than 200 firefighters and technical equipment provided by European Union countries will be soon deployed to Greece to help boost the battle against large wildfires.

Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Norway will take part in the deployment, coordinated by the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.

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