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Sunday, July 19

80 wildfires broke out in Greece on Friday; fires now under control, one dead

AFP via ABC Australia July 18 approx. 7 PM local time
Greece beats back wildfires but burned body found; two men arrested on suspicion of starting a blaze

Firefighters in Greece have succeeded in bringing two large wildfires in Athens and the Peloponnese under control, but an off-duty police officer is believed to have died in the flames.

A body found in the Athens district of Kareas where the fire broke out was confirmed to be a missing 47-year-old police officer, who was on leave and had failed to return home from a walk in the area, according to his wife.

Two men, a Greek and a Bulgarian, were arrested on suspicion of accidentally starting the wildfire that ravaged the capital's north-eastern outskirts, the fire department said.

The two men, aged 67 and 58, lit a fire to smoke bees out of their hives in order to collect honey.

The fire in Kareas, at the foot of Mount Hymettus, quickly ripped across several kilometres, threatening homes in another three districts before it was brought under control.

Another fire in the south-east of the Peloponnese peninsula, near the coastal town of Neapoli, destroyed 35 homes and agricultural land, state ERT television reported.

A satellite picture of Greece released by the European Commission showed both fires, with the smoke cloud from the Peloponnese fire covering an area the size of the island of Crete.

Overall, nearly 80 fires broke out in Greece on Friday (local time), the fire department said, prompting the government to request aid from Europe.

France's interior ministry said it was sending Greece two Canadair water-bomber planes and a reconnaissance aircraft.

Authorities have warned that the risk of fires remained high owing to strong winds.


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