July 22, 2020 / 1:09 PM / 24 days ago

Greek firefighters battle forest blaze near seaside village

A helicopter makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Kechries, Greece, July 22, 2020. REUTERS/ Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek firefighters brought in reinforcements from across the country on Wednesday to help control a large forest fire fanned by strong winds near the seaside village of Kechries in the eastern Peloponnese, fire brigade officials said.

Authorities said they had been forced to evacuate a residential settlement as the blaze, burning through pine trees, came close to a military camp where explosives were stored.

Thick dark smoke clouded the area, with the front of the blaze moving south in very windy conditions.

“The blaze is fanned by strong winds, we have recommended the evacuation of three settlements. So far there are no injuries or damage to homes,” a fire brigade official said earlier.

Authorities had preventively evacuated the “Summerfun” camp, taking children to a safer area near the village’s beach.

More than 70 firefighters were battling the blaze, assisted by five helicopters and two planes, with volunteers also helping. Late in the evening, reinforcements arrived from northern Greece. Winds had dropped but the fire was still active on several fronts, witnesses said.

The chief of Greece’s fire brigade had travelled to the area to coordinate efforts, with reinforcements also heading there.

Kechries, a village in the municipality of Corinth, takes its name from the ancient port town of Kenchreai. A beauty spot surrounded by lush forest, it is very popular with local bathers.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Alex Richardson and Leslie Adler

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