A days-old fire burned through Greece’s second-largest island Sunday, prompting more evacuations.
Thousands of tourists and residents have fled the forested island of Evia since the blaze began on August 3. Scores of homes and other buildings have been destroyed, and reports show limited visibility beneath the haze and orange sky.
Evacuation orders were issued for four villages on the island Sunday, including the seaside village of Pefki, where hundreds of people fled on a ferry before flames reached the area.
Many people in the nearby town of Gouves refused evacuation orders, attempting to save their homes as the fire singed treetops, the Associated Press reported.
Also on Sunday, a firefighting plane crashed while on its way to help quell the blaze. Officials said the pilot survived without injury and the cause of the crash was unknown.
Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said Sunday that extremely low visibility on the island because of the smoke from the fires was making conditions dangerous for water-dropping planes.
The fire is the worst of many across Greece as the country faces its longest heatwave in three decades, recording temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit)and creating dry conditions.
“It’s already too late; the area has been destroyed,” Giannis Kontzias, mayor of the northern Evia municipality of Istiaia, told national TV Sunday. Kontzias was one of the first local officials to appeal to Greece’s federal government for assistance in fighting the blaze.
Hardalias said that the fire is burning on two fronts – one from the north and the other from the south of the island.
Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.