The forest fire on the island of Rhodes advances uncontrollably and forces the evacuation of hundreds of people
The huge forest fire burning on the Greek island of Rhodes for the fifth consecutive day has forced the authorities to order the evacuation of four places, including two tourist resorts.
In previous days, the forest fire was limited to the mountainous center of the island, but helped by winds, very high temperatures and dry conditions, it has spread this Saturday towards the coast on the central-eastern side of the island.
Three hotels have been evacuated due to the advance of the fire
Local media have reported that the fire had reached three hotels, whose clients have been evacuated. The spokesman for the Fire Service, Yannis Artopios, said this afternoon that residents of four towns have received SMS messages to leave the area: in two towns they have been told to move to the northeast and, in another two, to the southwest of the island.
Artopios added that more than 200 firefighters and 40 trucks are operating on the ground, assisted by three planes and five helicopters. For their part, 31 firefighters from Slovakia, with five trucks, are also working in the area to control the fire.
The main front of the fire is a triangle, with two of its points near the sea and one in the mountains. On maps, each side of the triangle appears to be more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) long.
Three coast guard boats, plus one from the army, have evacuated people from two beaches. Also, twenty private ships have helped in the evacuations and the Greek navy has sent a ship.
The heat wave could last until Friday in Greece
Despite its virulence, the Rhodes fire is only the most dangerous of the various active fires across Greece. The one declared in the northwest of Athens and one near Sparta are abating, though conditions including temperatures reaching 45 degrees on Sunday and low humidity (below 15%) mean the danger is not over and more wildfires could break out.
The Fire Service has designated almost all of that part of the territory, plus the islands of Evia and Rhodes, as well as large swaths of the southwest, as Category 5, the highest for the risk of fire outbreaks, this Sunday. Another good part of the country has been designated Category 4, very high risk.
According to weather forecasts, there will be a brief respite in the heat wave on Monday, but it will resume on Tuesday and could last at least until Friday. Therefore, the firefighting forces of eight countries of the European Union are operating or will soon arrive in Greece. Countries like Israel, Jordan and Turkey have also sent reinforcements, mostly air teams.
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