Three large fires burned for Greece Saturday and one of them threatens entire towns and crosses Eubea, the second largest island in the country. Others burned forested slopes and circled ancient sites, leaving in their wake a path of destruction that one official described as “a biblical catastrophe.”

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A flotilla of 10 vessels – two Coast Guard patrols, two ferries, two passenger ships and four fishing boats – waited on the shore of Pefki, near the northern tip of Euboea, ready to evict more residents and tourists in case of if necessary, a Coast Guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press on the customary condition of anonymity.

The fire in Euboea forced the hasty evacuation Friday night of about 1,400 people from a town on the island’s seashore and beaches via a variety of boats, after nearby flames prevented other means of escape.

The other dangerous fires were in the southern Peloponnese peninsula, one near ancient Olympia and another in the Mani Peninsula region of the Peloponnese, south of Sparta. The fire in eastern Olympia moved east of the archaeological site, putting villages at risk, when it suddenly reignited on Saturday.

North of Athens, the fire in Mount Parnes, a thickly forested national park, continued to burn and sometimes reignited, but a Fire Service spokesman told the AP on Saturday that attempts to contain it “are going well.”

Smoke from that fire still swept through the Athens Basin. Hours earlier, the fire covered the Greek capital with smoke, where the authorities installed an emergency telephone line for people with respiratory difficulties.

A volunteer firefighter died on Friday and at least 20 people have received treatment in hospitals in the past week, as Greece goes through the most intense heat wave in three decades, with temperatures rising to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the Fire Department headquarters in Athens on Saturday and expressed “deep sadness” at the firefighter’s death.

Mitsotakis stressed that his “first political priority” will be to guarantee aid for all those affected by the fires and promised that all burned areas will be reforested.

“When this nightmare summer is over, all of our attention will turn to repairing damage as quickly as possible and restoring our natural environment,” Mitsotakis said.

A Mani official estimated that the fire there had destroyed about 70% of her area.

“It is a biblical catastrophe. We are talking about three-quarters of the municipality, ”Mani Oriental Deputy Mayor Eleni Drakoulakou told state broadcaster ERT while calling for more firebreak planes.

Other officials and residents of southern Greece spoke to television programs to ask on the air for more help fighting the fires.

Greece requested assistance through the European Union’s emergency support system. Firefighters and planes have arrived from France, Spain, Ukraine, Cyprus, Croatia, Sweden, Israel, Romania and Switzerland.

With AP information

HAVJ

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