The Greek authorities reported progress on Friday in the fight against the fire that ravaged for four days the island of Euboea, northeast of Athens.
"No active front"
"The situation seems better today (Friday), there is no active front but our forces remain on the spot," said a spokesman for firefighters, AFP however, referring to "pockets of fire" subsisting in a ravine. He did not say whether the fire would be considered controlled during the day, as suggested by the authorities the previous day.
The fire, which was declared Tuesday at 3am (midnight in France) near a nature reserve, destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of pine forests, according to the Greek agency ANA. It had been described as a real "ecological disaster" two days earlier by the authorities.
Nearly 400 firefighters, assisted by 110 vehicles, nine planes and four helicopters water bombers were still struggling Friday morning to overcome this disaster on land with dense vegetation, rugged terrain and difficult access. Two water bombers, one from Italy and the other from Spain, lent them a hand. At the request of Athens, the European Union mobilized its resources from the Rescue Mechanism, operational since the beginning of the year in anticipation of forest fires.
Suspicions of arson
On the island of Euboea, the second largest country after Crete, four villages were evacuated, a firefighter was hospitalized, burned and at least four cars were burned. But the fire soldiers managed to block fire in a ravine near the village of Platana.
The fire took place at three different locations near the village of Macrymalli, suggesting criminal intent, the ANA added. Two Greeks suspected of lighting one or more fires were arrested Thursday in the Peloponnese.
From north to south, Greece has been affected in recent days by a series of fires under the combined effect of heat waves, high winds and drought.
Some had declared themselves on the islands of Thassos in the North, or Elafonissos in the South, near Athens, or in the regions of Boeotia in the Central West and Peloponnese in the South.