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Massive wildfire near Athens nearly put out

 Residents watch a fire fighting helicopter drop water on a burning forest at Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousa...
 A soldier uses a spade to fight flames, in Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of local residents were involv...
 A firefighter sprays water on a burning tree as a car burns near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of lo...
 A firefighter sprays water on a burning tree as a car burns near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of lo...
 A firefighter sprays water on a fire burning in a front yard of a home near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thou...
 Map locates areas near Marathon, Greece where wildfires are burning
 A fire burns on the mount of Kitheronas about 70 kilometers, (45 miles) west of Athens on  Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. More than 90 wildfires have ignited...
 a Plane drops water on a burning forest, in Nea Makri, near Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard...
 a Plane drops water on a burning forest, in Nea Makri, near Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard...
 Men try to extinguish fires in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds o...
 A man walks by a burning house yard in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force...
 A plane drops water as firefighters try to extinguish a burning forest in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 20...
 A house burns in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard-pr...
 A man clears dry grass in front of his home as fire rages nearby in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An...
 A residents uses a garden hose to spay water on a burned tree at Nea Makri, a suburb north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009.  The wind-driven fire...
 A volunteer firefighter uses a hose to spray water on a burning tree, as a convent is seen in the background, at Nea Makri, north of Athens, on Monda...
 A residents uses a garden hose to spay water on a burned tree at Nea Makri, a suburb north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The wind-driven fires...
 Volunteers from the Red Cross work at the scene of a forest fire in Pikermi, north of Athens, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The convent was evacuated Monday...
 A volunteer firefighter uses a hose to spay water on a burning tree at Nea Makri,  north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009.  Wind-driven fires rage...
 A volunteer from the Red Cross works at the scene of a forest fire in Pikermi, north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The convent was evacuated M...
 A firefighter sprays water at a burning forest near Nea Makri, north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. Wind-driven fires raged for a fourth day ou...

Greece Wildfires

Residents watch a fire fighting helicopter drop water on a burning forest at Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousa...

Greece Wild Fires

A soldier uses a spade to fight flames, in Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of local residents were involv...

Greece wildfires

A firefighter sprays water on a burning tree as a car burns near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of lo...

Greece wildfires

A firefighter sprays water on a burning tree as a car burns near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thousands of lo...

Greece wildfires

A firefighter sprays water on a fire burning in a front yard of a home near Agios Stephanos, a suburb north of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. Thou...

GREECE FIRES

Map locates areas near Marathon, Greece where wildfires are burning

ATPTOPIX Greece Wildfires

A fire burns on the mount of Kitheronas about 70 kilometers, (45 miles) west of Athens on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009. More than 90 wildfires have ignited...

Greece Fires

a Plane drops water on a burning forest, in Nea Makri, near Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard...

Greece Fires

a Plane drops water on a burning forest, in Nea Makri, near Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard...

Greece Fires

Men try to extinguish fires in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds o...

Greece Fires

A man walks by a burning house yard in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force...

APTOPIX Greece Fires

A plane drops water as firefighters try to extinguish a burning forest in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 20...

Greece Fires

A house burns in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An overnight drop in gale-force winds offered hard-pr...

Greece Fires

A man clears dry grass in front of his home as fire rages nearby in Dioni, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Athens, Greece, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. An...

APTOPIX Greece wildfires

A residents uses a garden hose to spay water on a burned tree at Nea Makri, a suburb north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The wind-driven fire...

Greece wildfires

A volunteer firefighter uses a hose to spray water on a burning tree, as a convent is seen in the background, at Nea Makri, north of Athens, on Monda...

Greece wildfires

A residents uses a garden hose to spay water on a burned tree at Nea Makri, a suburb north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The wind-driven fires...

Greece wildfires

Volunteers from the Red Cross work at the scene of a forest fire in Pikermi, north of Athens, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The convent was evacuated Monday...

Greece wildfires

A volunteer firefighter uses a hose to spay water on a burning tree at Nea Makri, north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. Wind-driven fires rage...

Greece wildfires

A volunteer from the Red Cross works at the scene of a forest fire in Pikermi, north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The convent was evacuated M...

APTOPIX Greece wildfires

A firefighter sprays water at a burning forest near Nea Makri, north of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. Wind-driven fires raged for a fourth day ou...

A massive wildfire that torched forests, farmland and homes near Athens has been contained, but firefighters still patrolled smoldering areas north and east of the Greek capital on Tuesday to guard against flareups.
Fires were still burning Tuesday near the coastal town of Porto Germeno, northwest of Athens, and near villages on the Evia island, east of the capital.
The fire that broke out Friday night in a mountainous area near the town of Marathon _ site of one of ancient history's most famous battlegrounds _ razed some 21,000 hectares (51,890 acres) of pine forest, olive grove, brush and farmland, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
For days it sent a pall of smoke over the capital, cloaking Athens in an eerie brown half-light.
Most of Mount Penteli, which separates Athens from the Marathon plain, has been scorched, right up to its 1,109-meter (3,638-ft) peak. The mountain's pine forests had also been heavily damaged by fire in 1995, leading to concerns that they won't be able to grow again naturally.
"There are no more active fire fronts, but we still have a large number of forces out there ... we have also begun damage assessment," a fire brigade spokesman said Tuesday.
So far, about 150 homes have been reported burned, but that is widely considered an underestimate.
Some 500 firefighters, assisted by 300 soldiers, were patrolling the area in 132 fire engines, the spokesman said. The water-fighting effort from the air scaled down to three planes and one helicopter Tuesday, in contrast to the 19 aircraft that unleashed 14,000 tons of water Monday on the Athens blaze.
The wildfire was the most destructive ever in the Attica region and the worst in Greece since the wildfires of 2007, which killed 76 people and laid waste to 275,000 hectares (679,500 acres).
Critics said Greece's conservative government showed it had learnt little from the 2007 wildfires.
"A complete overhaul is required in the way we deal with forest fires ... There is no sign the (government) is moving the right direction," said Dimitris Karavellas, director of the environmental group WWF in Greece.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis dismissed the criticism and visited a fire plane base to thank its exhausted pilots.
"Close your ears to those few who from a safe position for their own expediencies attempt (to criticize) everything," he said. "The entire Greek nation supports you and is grateful."


Updated : 2021-04-12 01:02 GMT+08:00