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Large wildfire ravages forest in northern Greece as eight villages are evacuated

Greek authorities on Saturday evacuated eight villages near the northeastern border with Turkey, where a large summer wildfire was burning out of control, whipped on by high winds.

The fire service said more than 130 firefighters, assisted by 14 water-dropping planes and three helicopters, were struggling to contain the blaze and reinforcements were being sent from other parts of the country. The forest fire broke out early Saturday near the village of Melia, east of the town of Alexandroupoli.

There were no immediate reports of injuries to firefighters or residents, but authorities said some houses suffered damages in two of the evacuated villages.

Earlier, a section of a major highway in the area was closed down due to heavy smoke drifting across it.

European Union officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017.

Residents of Alexandroupoli were also advised to keep their windows closed due to smoke blown over the town from the fire. Another smaller wildfire was burning outside Thessaloniki, in the north, the second-largest city in Greece. Earlier, firefighters brought under control a blaze on the western island of Cephalonia. The fire service has issued a high wildfire alert for the weekend.

Source: AP