Large fire sparks alert on outskirts of Athens

A large forest fire broke out early on Saturday on the northeastern outskirts of Athens, officials and reports said, threatening an army camp in the vicinity.

"The fire is moving through a wooded ravine and is burning across a large front,» Nikos Peppas, the deputy mayor of the municipality of Dionysos, told state television NET. «It's dangerous because an army camp is in the vicinity,» he said.


Traffic police said they had diverted traffic on the national highway leading north of Athens as a precaution.


The fire broke out before dawn near the town of Afidnes.


The state-run Athens News Agency said a force of 100 fire-fighters, four aircraft and two helicopters had been dispatched to deal with the fire.


The same area had also been ravaged by fires in 2009.


Greece suffers from a large number of fires every summer, that are usually aided by high temperatures and strong winds and are often attributed to arson.


The Athens national observatory this week said the months of June and July were among the hottest on record.


The worst disaster occurred on the Aegean island of Chios where scores of mastic orchards were destroyed by a fire burning for a week.


Earlier this month, another wildfire blazing for five days threatened Mount Athos, a UN World Heritage Site in northern Greece, that is home to the world's oldest surviving monastic community.



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