Tourist resort in Greece evacuated as Lesbos wildfire destroys homes

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Tourists and residents were evacuated on Saturday from a popular resort on the Greek island of Lesbos as a wildfire destroyed homes in the beachside village of Vatera.

Firefighters deployed seven planes and a helicopter to fight the surging blaze, with reinforcements expected to arrive from northern Greece.

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The fire broke out at 10:00 local time (0700 GMT) on Saturday and is blazing on two fronts, heading towards the Vrisa village and another inside Vatera.

West Lesbos mayor Taxiarchis Verros ordered the evacuation of the busy beach resort as a precautionary measure, acting on the advice of the fire brigade, Athens News Agency reported.

He did not provide figures on how many were evacuated but there were several buses and small boats to take people away.

At least two houses were ravaged by the fire, state TV ERT said.

On Saturday, firefighters were also battling for a third day a wildfire raging in the Dadia National Park, the country’s largest Natura 2000 site known for its black vulture colony, in the northeastern region of Evros.

The fire brigade said the thick smoke from the blaze prevented firefighting planes from operating.

A wildfire in mountains near Athens on Wednesday damaged homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate after gale-force winds earlier this week.

The country’s worst wildfire disaster was in 2018 in the coastal suburb of Mati, claiming 102 lives, just a few kilometers (miles) from the area affected by Wednesday’s blaze.

On Saturday, a memorial service was held at the seaside town to commemorate the victims.

A heatwave and wildfires last year destroyed 103,000 hectares (255,000 acres) and claimed three lives in Greece.

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