Greek wildfire burns by pine forest on the 4th day | World information

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Hundreds of Greek and Polish firefighters battled a major forest fire that decimated a pine forest on a fourth day northwest of the Greek capital on Thursday.

The fire near the village of Vilia, about 60 kilometers from Athens, has already burned thousands of hectares and resulted in the evacuation of several villages in the area. Strong winds, which are forecast for later in the day, could make firefighting difficult.

According to the fire department, 427 firefighters, including 143 from Poland, and 149 vehicles fought the flames. Five water cannons and five helicopters provided air support while the army dispatched manpower and machines.

The Vilia fire is the latest of hundreds of forest fires to burn across Greece this month, fueled by a heat wave – the country’s worst in about three decades – that dried up scrubland and forests.

The fires have pushed the country’s fire-fighting capabilities to the limit, which has led the government to seek international help, including through a European Union emergency response system. About 24 European and Middle Eastern countries responded, sending planes, helicopters, vehicles and hundreds of firefighters. Most have since returned home.

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The causes of the fire are not officially established, but more than a dozen people have been arrested on suspicion of arson.

Heat and forest fires have hit other Mediterranean countries as well. Firefighters in France worked Tuesday to contain a forest fire in the French Riviera, and recent forest fires have killed at least 75 people in Algeria and 16 in Turkey. Increasing drought and heat have also led to forest fires in the western United States and in the northern Siberia region of Russia.

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