Thousands Flee Fires Near Athens as Greece Endures its Worst Heatwave in 30 years

Thousands of people fled their homes north of Athens on Tuesday as a wildfire reached residential areas.

It comes just a day after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece is currently in the midst of its “worst heatwave” in more than 30 years.

The blaze sent a huge cloud of smoke over Athens and prompted multiple evacuations near Tatoi, 20 kilometres to the north. Residents left their homes in cars and on motorcycles, heading toward the capital amid a blanket of smoke.

“It is a large fire and it will take a lot of work to get this under control,” greater Athens regional governor George Patoulis told state-run ERT television. “The foliage is very dense in these areas and it is very dried out due to the heatwave, so the conditions are difficult.”

Wildfires also raged in other parts of Greece, prompting evacuations in a coastal area of the southern Peloponnese region as well as on the islands of Evia and Kos, authorities said.

Mitsotakis said on Monday that the country is “facing the worst heatwave since 1987… [causing] a burden on the electricity network.” The 1987 heatwave killed more than 1,100 people.

Mitsotakis added the authorities “were doing everything possible to deal with the situation” and urged users to “limit their consumption especially at the beginning of the afternoon and during the night”.

Temperatures reached 45°C in some regions on Monday with the heatwave expected to peak early this week.