ATHENS: More than 250 firefighters were battling four wildfires on the Greek island of Evia on Friday, with authorities ordering the evacuation of four villages as a precaution.
One of the blazes broke out early Thursday afternoon and was burning woodland and agricultural areas, while another two started simultaneously just before midnight Thursday. The blazes led to four villages being evacuated.
The fire department said a fourth, a forest fire, broke out in the same area Friday afternoon.
The latest blaze was being tackled by firefighting forces already in the area, authorities said. A total of 255 firefighters, four water-dropping planes and three helicopters along with 100 vehicles and earth-moving machinery were battling the flames.
Greek authorities said they had activated the European Union‘s Copernicus Emergency Management Service satellite program to map the affected areas.
Earlier Friday, the fire department said that a 64-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of starting the first fire by using a naked flame to burn dried weeds near his house. The man was to appear before a prosecutor in court Friday.
Burning dried weeds and other such activities outdoors, such as setting campfires, is banned in Greece from May 1-Oct. 1 as part of measures to prevent forest fires.
Wildfires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summer months. Last year, the country’s deadliest fire killed 101 people in the seaside settlement of Mati outside of Athens, including many who drowned as they tried to swim away from intense heat and smoke engulfing beaches