Hot, windy weather sparks Europe wildfires

Wildfires are threatening homes south of Athens, a famed hikers’ route in Corsica and Albania’s Riviera as high winds and unusually hot weather hits many areas of Europe.

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After ravaging northern Corsica, wildfires raged on Thursday in the southern half of the French Mediterranean island, prompting some evacuations north of the regional capital of Ajaccio and on slopes of the hikers’ route known as the GR20.

Planes and helicopters were involved in firefighting efforts on Thursday around Palneca, a stop on the GR20 route where a blaze broke out on Wednesday, according to the regional authority for southern Corsica.

The efforts were complicated by the rocky terrain. Another fire in nearby Appietto broke out on Wednesday but firefighters brought it under control.

Authorities put out warnings about soaring temperatures expected in Corsica and the southern French mainland.

In Greece, three firefighters had been hospitalised with burns and local authorities issued an evacuation order for residents near a seaside town south of Athens as a wildfire fuelled by high winds threatened homes.

About 100 people were told to evacuate near Kalyvia, 40 kilometres of Athens, the local mayor’s office said. The fire burned two cars and damaged a fire truck, they said. About 70 firefighters and volunteers were involved along with two water-dropping helicopters.

Winds up to 60km/h were hampering the firefighting effort, while temperatures in the area reached 35C.

About 300 firefighters and military personnel were working in Albania to keep under control 25 new wildfires that broke out in the past 24 hours.

Albanian authorities asked for assistance from the European Union to fight 20 wildfires in the Vlora district along the country’s Riviera.

The interior ministry on Thursday reported that a fire at a forest in the capital Tirana’s district was extinguished after burning 10 hectares.

In southwestern Albania, wildfires were threatening the Llogara National Park as the firefighters were unable to extinguish the blaze in the region’s steep mountains. Helicopters were being used to keep fires under control.

Local media reported that Albania had asked neighbouring Greece to assist in fighting the wildfires.