Patras/Achaia: Several Areas in State of Emergency Due to Wildfires

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 The areas of Ano and Kato Kastritsi, Argyra, Sellia and Platani in the Achaia prefecture, Western Peloponnese, have been declared into a state of emergency after wild fires broke in the early morning on Wednesday. Firefighters struggle to extinguish the fire, while residents of several communities are fleeing as flames threaten their homes and the thick smoke creates a suffocating atmosphere.

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Strong winds blowing with an intensity of 9 Beaufort make the work of the firefighters almost impossible. The winds carried the smoke to the city of Patra. Greek media report that the University of Patras that had to be evacuated due to the smoke cloud.

According to local news portal Patras Times , the General Hospital of Patras in stand by to eventually evacuate patients and personnel as the smoke has surrounded the hospital building. All windows are closed.

The residents of three villages have been ordered to evacuate their areas.

The priest of Platani said that the village church bells rang three times to urge residents to leave, however some refused to do so.

The horses of the Platani Riding Club have been transported to a safe area.

The fire broke at 2:30 a.m.

Currently there are 65 firefighters with 33 vehicles, eight fire-fighting aricraft and two helicopters on duty.

An army battalion with 35-men is expected to join the efforts to extinguish the fire and help with the evacuation of people.

However the strong winds make it difficult to take the fire under control.

First estimations speak of arson.