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Six Greek villages evacuated as wildfire burns near Ancient Olympia

A farmers drives his tractor next to a fire near the village of Krestena south of Ancient Olympia,(Giannis Spyrounis/AP)
A farmers drives his tractor next to a fire near the village of Krestena south of Ancient Olympia,(Giannis Spyrounis/AP)

Α major fire has broken out in southern Greece, burning homes not far from the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia and prompting the evacuations of six villages.

The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon near the villages of Krestena and Skillountia, which are south and south east of Ancient Olympia. Authorities messaged residents there and in four other villages to evacuate quickly.

Fire Service spokesman Yannis Artopoios said 125 firefighters and 43 fire engines were operating in the area, as well as four planes and four helicopters, but the aircraft cannot operate at night.

On a positive note, the prevailing north-westerly winds were pushing the fire to the south east, up a mountain and away from Ancient Olympia, authorities said.

Greece Wildfires
A spark lights on a a power cable as a fire burns near the village of Krestena (Giannis Spyrounis/ilialive.gr via AP)

At least six more significant fires were burning across the country on Sunday, according to the fire service, with three of those burning for several days. Mr Artopoios said 141 wildfires had started in Greece over the past three days.

The fire on the Greek island of Lesbos, which required the evacuation of over 450 tourists and locals on Saturday, is slowly being controlled, with only scattered blazes late on Sunday afternoon, local authorities said.

But two fires still threaten Greek nature reserves, one in the north-eastern region of Thrace, close to the Turkish border, and another in the region of Western Macedonia.

Three other fires erupted on Sunday, one in Western Macedonia, another in central Greece and the third on the island of Crete.

Greece Wildfires
A firefighting plane sprays water on the flames (Giannis Spyrounis/ilialive.gr via AP)

In the Dadia Forest, which hosts a number of rare bird species, firefighters and aid workers rescued injured animals and took them in for treatment.

Late on Sunday that blaze expanded again, forcing residents of the village of Dadia to evacuate for the second time in three days.

Hot and dry conditions, along with gusty winds, have prevailed for weeks in Greece.

A heatwave that arrived on Saturday pushed temperature past 41C (105.8F) in some places. The heat is expected to persist for several days.