Greece battles to control fire close to ancient Olympic site


clouds in a forest: Flames engulf the forest at a mountain near Platanos village, near ancient Olympia in western GreeceGreek firefighters battled Thursday to bring under control two major fires raging near Olympia and on the island of Evia as the country swelters in a record-breaking heatwave. More than 170 firefighters, around 50 trucks, six helicopters and water-bombing aircraft were deployed near the ancient archeological site, the birthplace of the Olympic games, on the Peloponnese peninsula.

After destroying around 20 houses, “the fire’s front is now heading towards Lalas,” a wooded mountainous area to the north west of Olympia, local official Nektarios Farmakis told the ANA news agency. Olympia, usually thronging with tourists at this time of year, as well as six nearby villages, were evacuated the day before.

A similar number of firefighters were also battling to contain a blaze on Evia, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of Athens. At least 150 houses were destroyed on the island as the fire surrounded a monastery and a dozen villages. Two more villages were evacuated early on Thursday.

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