Greek firefighters battle new wildfire near Athens amid strong winds

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Greek firefighters were battling a wildfire south of Athens on Sunday amid strong winds, just hours after managing to contain blazes in a mountainous area also near the capital as well as on an island in the Aegean Sea.

Dozens of firefighters, backed up by 17 water-carrying aircraft, fought to tame the new fire in a sparsely-populated area near the town of Keratea, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Athens.

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Greek television showed at least one house in flames as smoke from burning pine and olive trees billowed into the sky.

With hot, windy conditions across much of Greece, dozens of wildfires broke out over the weekend and authorities advised people to stay away from forested areas.

Firefighters were still engaged on the island of Serifos where a fire had broken out amid low vegetation on Saturday and spread quickly, fanned by strong winds, damaging houses and prompting the evacuation of several hamlets.

The wildfire, which at one point had raged across 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), damaged holiday homes and storehouses, the island’s mayor, Kostas Revinthis, told Greek television.

Another fire in the mountainous forest of Parnitha near a nature reserve just outside Athens had eased by Sunday morning, officials said.

The strong winds are not expected to abate until later on Sunday, meteorologists said.

Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean country but have become more devastating in recent years as summers have become hotter, drier and windier, which scientists link to the effects of climate change.

After last summer’s deadly forest fires and following its warmest winter on record, Greece developed a new doctrine, which includes deploying an extra fire engine to each new blaze, speeding up air support and clearing forests.

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