Wildfires in Spain, Italy and Greece with homes under threat near Athens

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Wildfires broke out in Greece, Italy and Spain (ES COMPOSITE)
Wildfires broke out in Greece, Italy and Spain (ES COMPOSITE)

People in Greece have been forced to flee their homes near Athens as a wildfire swept through a hillside forest.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said firefighters had battled around 50 fires during the past 24 hours and it was likely there would be more.

Meteorologists have issued further warnings of another heatwave ahead.

Greek authorities evacuated several areas north of Athens where homes are under threat in the extreme weather.

Just two months ago, earlier forest fires broke out leaving the capital shrouded in a huge orange cloud of smoke.

On Tuesday, five water-dropping planes and four helicopters were used to fight the blaze outside the Stamata area which was 18 miles northeast of the capital.

Residents in the area received cellphone alerts telling them to keep doors and windows closed to avoid exposure to smoke and prevent hazardous sparks from blowing inside homes.

Dozens of firefighters were also deployed on the ground to try and contain the fire which sent smoke over Athens.

“I want to emphasize that August remains a difficult month,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

“That is why it is important for all of us, all state services, to be on absolute alert until the firefighting period is formally over.”

Fire service officials said negligence on farms and construction sites had been behind several incidents, many of which were in the southern Peloponnese region. No casualties were reported.

Wildfires in Europe

Hot weather and strong winds provided the perfect storm for wildfires burning in regions across Europe on Monday.

Conditions in southern Europe were in sharp contrast to the torrential rainstorms that lashed northern countries from Austria to Britain following the catastrophic flooding in Germany and neighbouring countries last week.

On the Italian island of Sardinia, firefighting planes from France and Greece reinforced local aircraft battling blazes across the island where more than 4,000 hectares of forest were burnt and more than 350 people evacuated.

In Sicily, fires broke out near the western town of Erice.

Catalonia, in Spain, had more than 1,500 hectares destroyed near Santa Coloma de Queralt, forcing dozens to be evacuated.

The blazes were 90% stabilised on Monday, firefighters and authorities confirmed.

In Lietor, in the central east region of Castilla-La Mancha, more than 2,500 hectares burned during the weekend before being brought under control, authorities said.

So far this year, wildfires have burned across 35,000 hectares in Spain.

But it is still some way off the 138,000 hectares burned in 2012, the worst year of the past decade.

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