The Hellenic Fire Service is on an all-night alert in order to handle resurgences of wildfires in Penteli – where 2,000 hectares of forest land was destroyed in a huge inferno that began Tuesday afternoon and raged throughout the night, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents and the Penteli Children’s Hospital, which was later at the verge of being consumed by the inferno – as well as in Megara and Salamina, where other wildfires broke out today.

Today also posed difficult challenges for firefighters and thousands of residents of Attica as well as of Megara (photo), where a huge new wildfire broke out at 13:41, and Salamina, where another wildfire broke out late this afternoon.

In Megara, 105 firefighters were deployed, with three groups on the ground, along with seven firefighting tanker aeroplanes and six helicopter fire planes.

Volunteer firefighters joined the operations and municipalities provided water trucks.

At least two homes were totally destroyed by the fire and many were damaged.

Fire planes and helicopters were deployed at dawn in various fronts in Attica, even approaching individual homes to save them from the blaze.

One taxi driver said that he, along with his wife and mother-in-law stayed up all night and the fire reached a distance of just 50 metres from his house when a firefighter tanker plane extinguished the fire shortly after dawn. He said he refused to leave the house and abandon the “the toils of a lifetime”.

Hundreds of firefighters were deployed in Penteli, where there was a continuing wildfire front today, as well as in Megara and Salamina.

In Salamina, firefighters fought on three fronts and residents received two SMS evacuation notifications – the first at 18:45 and the second at 19:15 – from the 112 emergency line.

There, 26 firefighters, 12 fire trucks, six fire planes and one helicopter were deployed, even as volunteer firefighters participated in the operation.

The situation late tonight was inordinately better than the inferno that raged throughout Tuesday night until dawn.

Yet there were many resurgences throughout the day and the Fire Service remains in a high state of alert.

Attica trapped by wildfires

Professor Alexandros Demetracopoulos of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki said that Attica has been engulfed and entrapped by wildfires.

He attributed that in large measure to the proximity of settlements and forestland.

Demetracopoulos also suggested that arson may be involved as there is great pressure to turn areas characterised as forestland into residential land before a related, upcoming land use bill is passed by Parliament.