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New Wildfire Ravages Northeastern Greece 

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Large wildfires are ravaging northeastern Greece near the border with Turkey. Local authorities have evacuated residents from eight villages where out-of-control flames have reportedly damaged homes and other property. So far, no deaths or injuries have been reported.  

Strong winds have fueled the fires by the village of Melia east of the city of Alexandroupolis, scorching farmland.  

More than 130 firefighters, 14 water-dropping planes and three helicopters are struggling to contain the blaze while reinforcements arrived from other parts of Greece. 

Earlier, Greek Fire Service spokesperson Yiannis Artopoios said the wildfires, that broke out Saturday, were “strong, aggressive and difficult to contain” as strong winds blowing from different directions intensified the flames and fueled new outbreaks.  

Difficult night ahead

Thick smoke from the fires is reducing visibility in the area, making it even harder for the firefighters to bring the wildfires under control.  

Local authorities are advising the residents of Alexandroupolis to stay indoors and keep their windows shut to avoid respiratory issues from the smoke from the forest land burning nearby. 

Officials of the Greek Fire Service are anticipating a difficult night ahead of them and said, they are expecting equally difficult weather conditions with continuing high winds Sunday.  

The fire service has issued a high wildfire alert for the weekend. 

“We have not seen such large wildfires in the area for years,” said the regional governor of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Christos Metios. He stressed that authorities are doing all they can to protect human life and, if possible, people’s homes and livelihoods.  

The mayor of Alexandroupolis said that so far authorities have evacuated people from residential areas where the flames in some instances reached yards and houses.  

Another smaller wildfire was burning outside Thessaloniki, in the north, the second-largest city in Greece. Earlier, firefighters brought under control a blaze on the western island of Cephalonia. 

Last month, deadly wildfires in central Greece forced the evacuation of about 20,000 tourists on the resort island of Rhodes. Shortly after, two air force pilots were killed when their water-dropping plane crashed while diving low to tackle a blaze on the island of Evia. 

European Union officials have attributed climate change as the main cause for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe. 

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