Greece battles wildfires upon general polls
Updated: 2012-06-17 09:03
ATHENS - Greek authorities battled several wildfires burning near Athens and southern Greece on Saturday, on the eve of critical general elections.
Two fire-fighters were slightly injured while trying to extinguish blazes at the seaside cities of Keratea and Palea Fokea, some 40 kilometers southeast of Athens, a Fire Brigade spokesman told reporters.
A number of houses were damaged as bushy areas at a frontline extending over 10 kilometers have been scorched down, according to local media reports.
Locals look at a forest fire approaching their house at Thymari coastal village, 40 km southeast of Athens, June 16, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
As hundreds of fire fighters assisted by four airplanes and a helicopter were struggling to contain the blazes at Keratea against gale-force winds measuring 7-8 Beaufort scale, a series of smaller wildfires broke out across Attica prefecture and the Peloponnese in southern Greece.
Meanwhile, in the northern Athens suburb of Pallini at the foot of Penteli mountain a wildfire threatened a dairy production plant.
Caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos reportedly has suggested that Greece may request aid, such as fire-fighting airplanes, from other EU members in the context of the EU mechanism for civil protection if necessary.
Greece faces the nightmare of destructive forest fires linked to the heat wave or arsonists every summer. In the worst tragedy in 2007, more than 80 people died in dozens of major wildfires across the country.
Authorities had been on alert since Friday, fearing wildfires due to the strong winds blowing. Local officials said Keratea's front could be linked to negligence by workers or arson, while some reported that unidentified persons fleeing the area where the fire started, shortly before smoke appears.
On Sunday Greek voters would head to the ballots in a parliamentary election that could determine if Greece will overcome an acute debt crisis and stay in the euro zone.
Firefighters and volunteers try to extinguish a forest fire at Thymari coastal village, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Athens, June 16, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]