Greeks Flee as Wildfire Rages near Athens

A wildfire raged with menace in a coastal region east of Athens on Monday, sending huge plumes of smoke over the capital and causing panicked residents to flee their homes.

More than 70 firefighters with 30 fire engines and five water-dropping helicopters battled the uncontrolled inferno, which broke out near Kinetta, about 54km west of the city.

A thick cloud of black and orange smoke hung over the Acropolis hill and the Parthenon temple early on Monday afternoon.

Fanned by strong interchanging winds, the blaze ravaged areas of pine forest while television images showed gardens burning as it continued.

A fire brigade official said that the fire was approaching the residential area of Maroula in Kinetta.

Wildfires are common in the southern European country in summer, but a dry winter has created tinderbox conditions, that have now forced authorities to ask all nearby residents to vacate their homes.

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