Greece closes motorways to stop wildfires spreading to oil refinery

Wildfires in Greece have meant authorities have now had to close motorways to stop them from reaching an oil refinery.

Water-dropping planes and helicopters flew low to contain two wildfires to the west of Athens tonight.

Italy and France were each sending two firefighting planes to help Greece cope.

Just yesterday popular holiday resorts were evacuated due to the wildfires.

The planes and their teams are part of an EU civil protection mechanism, and they will join some 30 Romanian firefighters already stationed in Greece.

Forecasters have indicated more extreme heat is on the way, with temperatures so hot that the Acropolis was closed.

Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis said the main fire near Athens rapidly became a major crisis.

‘The Fire Service had to intervene in many instances to get people out of their homes,’ the spokesman said.

Officials cancelled holidays and leave for firefighters, while Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis cut short a visit to Brussels and returned to Athens to meet with the heads of the Fire Service and Civil Protection Agency.

Wildfires continued to burn out of control on Tuesday to the north and west of Athens, including a blaze near the resort town of Loutraki, where more homes were damaged and evacuations were expanded.

In Mandra, west of Athens, police ran through narrow streets to help residents into cars as the flames approached.

Earlier, police helped nuns leave a hilltop Orthodox Christian monastery that was also under threat.

Several smaller fires also broke out closer to the capital, where winds remained moderate but where scrub and forest land were dried out by extreme temperatures last week.

Authorities said sections of two motorways linking Athens to the western city of Corinth were closed to give firefighters better access to the fires and to stop the flames from approaching a major oil refinery.

Greece also activated a rapid mapping evaluation system, which uses EU satellite data to assess fire damage.

A second heatwave is expected on Thursday, with temperatures as high as 44C expected in central and southern parts of the country by the end of the week.

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