As the heat wave scorching the eastern Mediterranean intensified, temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius in parts of the Greek capital.
Thousands of people have fled their homes north of Athens as a wildfire broke out of the forest and reached residential areas.
More than 500 firefighters struggled into the night Tuesday to contain the large forest blaze on the outskirts of Athens. It was the worst of 81 wildfires that broke out in Greece over the past 24 hours, amid one of the country's worst heatwaves in decades.
The hurried evacuations took place just as Greece grappled with its worst heat wave in decades.
The blaze sent a huge cloud of smoke over Athens.
As the heat wave scorching the eastern Mediterranean intensified, temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) in parts of the Greek capital.
Earlier, authorities closed the Acropolis and other ancient sites during afternoon hours.
I was outside in 43degrees today in Athens & was struggling. I can barely begin to imagine what locals & emergency services are going through rn in northern Athens. Wildfires n heatwaves increasingly common phenomena as climate change worsens. Thoughts & prayers out #βαρυμπομπη pic.twitter.com/Sa0eCZsxML— Constantine Levoyannis (@clevo275) August 3, 2021
The site, which is normally open in the summer from 8 am to 8 pm, will have reduced hours through Friday, closing between midday and 5 pm.
The extreme heat, described by authorities as the worst in Greece since 1987, has strained the national power supply and fueLled the wildfires.
Five water-dropping planes and five helicopters were involved in the firefighting effort near Athens, including a Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft leased from Russia.
More than 500 firefighters struggled into the night to contain a large forest blaze on the outskirts of Athens, which raced into residential areas, forcing thousands to flee.
Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said the fire north of Athens was “very dangerous,” and had been exacerbated by strong winds and tinder-dry conditions due to the heat.
No severe injuries were reported, and authorities said several buildings had been damaged.
“We continue to fight hour by hour, with our top priority being to save human lives,” Hardalias said. “We will do so all night."
“These are crucial hours,” Hardalias said. "Our country is undergoing one of the worst heatwaves of the past 40 years.”
⚠️ Ενεργοποίηση 1️⃣1️⃣2️⃣— 112 Greece (@112Greece) August 3, 2021
🆘 Αν βρίσκεστε σε #Αχαρνές, #Λυκόβρυση, #ΚάτωΚηφισιά, #Μεταμόρφωση #Αττικής, κλείστε καμινάδες, παράθυρα, πόρτες για να μην διεισδύσουν οι καύτρες στο εσωτερικό σπιτιού-Παραμείνετε σε ετοιμότητα, ακολουθείτε οδηγίες αρχών-Δασική πυρκαγιά στην περιοχή σας pic.twitter.com/abJGMzUJYF
The blaze damaged electricity pylons, adding further strain on the electricity network already under pressure due to the widespread use of air conditioning.
The Greek Fire Service maintained an alert for most of the country for Tuesday and Wednesday, while public and some private services shifted operating hours to allow for afternoon closures.