A wildfire that broke out on Saturday in western Greece forced the evacuation of four villages and people on a beach by the Hellenic Fire Service, the coast guard and private boats, authorities said.
The fire was in a mountain forest 30km east of Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis said late on Saturday.
Aided by strong winds, the fire raced down the slopes and threatened seaside villages.
The Greek Civil Protection Agency used the 112 European emergency number to send text messages to the residents of four villages — two in the mountains and two by the sea — to evacuate.
Local media reported that some villagers refused to leave and were trying to fight the fire with garden hoses.
Firefighters told reporters that the fire was a large one, advancing on multiple fronts, although winds had abated somewhat.
Chrysochoidis said on state broadcaster ERT that 290 firefighters were fighting the blaze, along with eight planes, seven helicopters and a Fire Service special forces boat, which helped evacuate beachgoers and others trapped by the fire near the sea.
Coast guard vessels and private boats helped in the evacuation.
The fire shut down the Athens-Patras highway and the 2.9km Rio-Antirrio bridge west of the fire.
A total of 56 wildfires have broken out in the past 24 hours in Greece, aided by a combination of dry weather, a heat wave and strong winds.
Most were put out at an early stage, Chrysochoidis said.
The heat wave is expected to peak today, with temperatures inland ranging from 42°C to 46°C.
Temperatures are to remain at 40°C or above in much of Greece until at least Friday, meteorologists said.
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