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A helicopter drops water to contain a fire in Nea Makri, east of Athens, Greece, Sept. 5, 2019.

Wildfire raging near Athens resort, arson suspected

ATHENS, (Xinhua) -- Greek firefighters were battling a wildfire which was raging on Thursday at the Nea Makri coastal resort, about 40 kilometres east of Athens.
Local authorities were set for the en masse evacuation of people, in case it is deemed necessary, while no injuries have been reported, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
About 100 firefighters, assisted by water-dropping airplanes and helicopters after dawn, were trying to keep the flames away from residential zones, according to a Fire Brigade press announcement.
There were suspicions of arson, according to local officials. The blaze broke out in two fronts at a distance of half a kilometre in the early hours in a forested area and had spread across 1.5 kilometres by dawn, Marathon Mayor Stergios Tsirkas told local media.
"There are testimonies regarding a person with suspicious behaviour," Governor of Attica Region Giorgos Patoulis added.
Nea Makri and neighbouring districts are part of the municipality of Marathon city. Another wildfire that broke out this summer had spread close to the starting point of the classic Marathon race.
About three kilometers further along the race's route towards Athens, a wildfire swept the coastal resort of Mati in July 2018, causing 102 deaths. It was the worst fire-linked tragedy in Greece in over a decade.
The country suffers from wildfires every year, mainly due to heatwaves and arson.

(Latest UpdateSeptember 9, 2019)

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