Tourists evacuated from Greek island camp as wildfire rages
Firefighters extinguish a wildfire at Elafonisos island, south of Peloponnese peninsula, on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Nikolia Apostolou)
Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, August 11, 2019 1:36PM EDT
ATHENS, Greece -- A tourist camp and nearby houses on the southern Greek island of Elafonisos were evacuated Sunday for the second day in a row as a wildfire at a nearby landfill intensified because of strong winds.
Authorities had pronounced the fire "under control" Saturday night but said the flames picked back up when the wind did. Greece's Fire Service said 121 firefighters, six airplanes and five helicopters battled the fire before it was brought back under control Sunday night.
Elafonisos, a 19 square kilometre (7 square mile) island known for its sandy beaches, has a population of about 350 but draws over 3,000 visitors daily during the summer.
Several thousand tourists left the island on scheduled ferries Sunday, a day after authorities cleared a campground for "precautionary reasons."
Some of those trying to leave the island described the evacuation as disorganized, telling The Associated Press they hadn't received an official warning but decided to leave out of concern for their safety.
Strong winds and high temperatures helped stoke dozens of wildfires across Greece. The Fire Service said 63 broke out between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Greek authorities warned of increased wildfire danger through Tuesday, across most of southern mainland Greece, in the north Aegean islands and in part of the northeastern province of Thrace, near the Turkish border.
"This is the first time in my experience that we will be having four straight days of extreme likelihood of wildfires," Major Gen. Spyros Varsamis, head of the firefighting service in the northern Central Macedonia region, told The Associated Press. He is a 25-year veteran of the service.
Costas Kantouris contributed to this report from Thessaloniki, Greece and Nikolia Apostolou from Elafonisos.