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Greece forest fires 'under control'

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Firefighters try to extinguish a fire near the town of Palea Fokaia, south of Athens (AP)

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire near the town of Palea Fokaia, south of Athens (AP)

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire near the town of Palea Fokaia, south of Athens (AP)

Forest fires raging across southern Greece appears to be abating, but high winds spurred occasional flare-ups and the danger was far from over, authorities said.

Citizens' protection minister Eleftherios Economou said more than 30 fires had broken out across the country but most were now under control. The risk of new fires was considered high after several days of hot temperatures followed by strong winds across most of Greece.

One major blaze south of Athens has burned 5,500 acres of brush land and forest, completely destroyed 15 houses and partially damaged more than 100 others, authorities said. Three firefighters were injured battling those flames .

More than 180 firefighters and soldiers, alongside a number of local volunteers, were using more than 120 vehicles to fight the blaze, which was in a sparsely populated area south of the capital.

The fire department said authorities also were using three water-dropping planes and a helicopter.

High winds kept producing flare-ups but the fire was no longer advancing on a single, broad front, as it did on Saturday, authorities said.

Four people are due to appear in court on allegations of accidentally causing the blaze south of Athens while carrying out welding work at a construction site.

Separately, an 83-year-old man was arrested on allegations of sparking a fire in the district of Pallini, just east of Athens, while working with an electrical saw at home.

A spark that fell on dry grass ignited a fire that threatened, among other buildings, an ice cream factory. The blaze destroyed 14 vehicles parked in the factory's yard.

PA