Wildfire destroys homes, triggers evacuations from Greek island tourist resort

Nearly 100 firefighters, 19 vehicles, 7 planes, a helicopter engaged in ground, air operations.

Wildfire destroys homes, triggers evacuations from Greek island tourist resort

A forest fire has forced evacuations from a seaside resort on the island of Midilli (Lesvos) of Greece, authorities said on Saturday. 

An unknown number of homes and businesses have been gutted near Vatera, a five-mile popular stretch of beach on the Aegean island, according to Taxiarchis Verros, mayor of the island’s western part.

The fire broke out in a mountainous forest and has “already reached the outskirts of Vatera,” he told local daily Kathimerini.

He said firefighters are engaged in a “huge battle to save more houses from the fire.”

“It’s quite windy unfortunately. The situation was going well … but the wind changed direction and the front became uncontrollable,” the official said.

The fire department said the blaze, which erupted at around 10 a.m. (0700GMT), is burning on two fronts, one heading toward the village Vrisa and the other bearing down on Vatera.

Nearly 100 firefighters, 19 vehicles, seven planes and one helicopter are engaged in ground and air operations to control the fire, according to the department.

In the Evros region, another wildfire burnt for a third day in Dadia National Park.

According to authorities, the blaze had consumed more than 800 hectares (nearly 2,000 acres) of dense pine forest.

Devastating blazes scorched more than 2,750 hectares (around 6,800 acres) on Mt. Pendeli on the outskirts of the capital Athens last week, with over a dozen houses destroyed and thousands forced to flee.

Last summer, in what was one of the worst heat waves in three decades, wildfires devoured more than 121,000 hectares (300,000 acres) in two separate regions of Greece.

Saturday also marked four years since a blaze – considered one of the largest urban wildfires in recent European history – killed more than 100 people in coastal areas of the Attica region.