ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek firefighters on Thursday battled a wind-driven forest fire that burned through pine forest and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near the seaside village of Kechries in the eastern Peleponnese, officials said.
Thick smoke billowed above treetops licked by flames as more than 236 firefighters tackled the blaze, assisted by four helicopters, eight planes municipal staff and volunteers.
“The fire burned olive and pine trees in a thick forest. Distressing to see residents running around with hoses, it’s a sad picture,” Anastasis Giolis, vice-prefect of Corinth told state TV ERT.
The fire lightly damaged three homes at the nearby villages of Athikia and Alamano and destroyed one fire truck, without causing any injuries to residents or firefighters.
Officials said they had been forced to order the evacuation of six residential compounds and one summer camp.
Overnight the blaze moved near the villages of Galataki and Agios Ioannis, with thick smoke clouding the area. The Greek fire brigade chief was still in the area to coordinate efforts, officials said.
On Wednesday authorities evacuated settlements as the blaze had come close to a military camp where explosives were stored. They also preventively evacuated the “Summerfun” camp, taking children to a safer area near the village’s beach.
Kechries, a village in the municipality of Corinth, takes its name from the ancient port town of Kenchreai. A beauty spot surrounded by lush forest, it is very popular with local bathers.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Vassilis Triantafyllou, Editing by William Maclean)