ATHENS — Wildfires ravaging central Greece spread to a military warehouse just miles from a major air base Thursday afternoon, igniting ammunition and setting off huge explosions.
After the blasts, authorities evacuated residents and tourists by land and sea from nearby towns and beaches. No injuries have been reported.
The ammunition warehouse is about 6 kilometers from a major military air base in Nea Anchialos.
The Greek air force said the area surrounding the warehouse was evacuated before the wildfires encroached. The fire service also left the area before the wildfire got too close for safety reasons.
The base is some 20 kilometers from the city of Volos, where people say they heard the blasts. Windows were shattered and houses damaged, although the extent of the damage is not yet clear, according to Greek authorities. Part of Greece’s busiest highway, near the city of Volos, was closed for several hours.
“Superhuman efforts were made to contain the fire by the heavily deployed forces, but they were unable to stop its enormous momentum,” said Fire Brigade spokesperson Yiannis Artopios.
Another wildfire is burning close to Athens in the industrial area of Aspropyrgos, engulfing a recycling factory. Thick black smoke covered the sky for part of the day Thursday before the fire was contained.
Firefighters continued to battle major flames on the island of Rhodes for a 10th successive day on Thursday, as well as on Corfu and Evia.
“The government has huge responsibilities for the fact that the country has been burning from end to end for 10 days, to the point that even sensitive military areas have been left unprotected and thousands of people are at risk,” the main opposition Syriza said in a statement.
Across the country, the death toll currently stands at five after two pilots died while trying to contain the wildfires, according to Greek fire service and police.