Hundreds Forced to Flee Resort on Lesbos Due to Wildfire
On Saturday, a forest fire near the coastal village of Vatera forced the evacuation of hundreds of visitors and residents of a well-known resort on the Greek island of Lesbos. People were forced to flee as others tried to defend their homes from embers as the fires sent up heavy clouds of smoke that obscured the sun as they drifted across the water. On Saturday, Greece experienced the first day of a heat wave that is expected to last 10 days. In some areas, temperatures were expected to reach 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit), raising fears of an upsurge in flames.
On Saturday at 10:00 a.m. local time (07:00 GMT), the fire on the island of Lesbos broke out. It is currently raging on two fronts, one of which is heading towards the village of Vrisa and the other towards Vatera. Police said 450 people were evacuated from 92 homes in Vatera as well as two hotels. Five foreigners were among nine people the Greek coastguard claimed to have evacuated from a beach in Vatera. To tackle the raging blaze, firefighters used a helicopter and nine firefighting aircraft. Acting on the recommendation of firefighters, the mayor of West Lesvos, Taxiarchis Verros, ordered the evacuation of the crowded resort, according to the Athens News Agency.
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According to state television ERT, the fire destroyed at least two houses. In the northeast area of Evros, in Dadia National Park, the country’s largest Natura 2000 site known for its colony of black vultures, firefighters also fought a blaze for a third day on Saturday. The situation in the northeast has “much improved”, according to fire department spokesman Yiannis Artopoios on Saturday afternoon, while the Vatera fire was “exceptionally difficult”.
(with agency contributions)