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August 23, 2009

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Fire rages near Athens

A LARGE forest fire raged out of control on the northeastern outskirts of Athens yesterday, sending thick clouds of smoke over the Greek capital, damaging homes and threatening three villages.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire broke out late on Friday in the village of Grammatiko, about 40 kilometers northeast of the city, and spread to residential areas overnight, the fire brigade said.

Nine aircraft, five helicopters, 35 fire engines and 151 firefighters with 20 water tanks were deployed to battle the flames.

Residents with hoses, shovels and buckets of water were also trying to save their properties, a witness said. At least eight homes were seriously damaged by the fire, a police source said.

"It is a very difficult fire because it rages in a mixed zone of residential areas and forest land," a fire brigade spokesman said.

Gale-force winds fanned more than 100 blazes across Greece in less than 24 hours on Friday.


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