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  • #31
    Nine dead, 3 missing

    By MERAIAH FOLEY
    Associated Press Writer
    SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Firefighters contained a wildfire that
    killed nine people and left three others missing, the nation's
    deadliest blaze in more than two decades, officials said Thursday.
    The fire, which started Monday, has consumed about 358,300 acres
    of grass and farmland on South Australia state's Eyre Peninsula,
    about 250 miles west of Adelaide.
    Country Fire Service spokeswoman Leanne Adams said 80 new
    firefighters arrived on the peninsula Thursday to relieve earlier
    crews. Their next task was to burn a 100-foot fire break around the
    85-mile perimeter of the fire, she said.
    "The fire is contained. There were no flare ups overnight,"
    Adams said.
    Eight of the victims - including two children aged 4 and 2 -
    burned to death in their cars as they tried to flee the blaze
    Tuesday and another woman was found dead in her home Wednesday,
    police spokeswoman Kylie Walsh said.
    Three others were missing and feared dead, she said. "It will
    be some time, perhaps days, before the identity of any of the
    deceased can be established."
    Fanned by strong winds and temperatures reaching 111 degrees,
    the fire raged out of control Tuesday. Local residents to fled to
    beaches or sought refuge in the sea. The inferno razed houses,
    shops, vehicles and boats.
    Peninsula resident Russell Puckridge said he had only three
    minutes to vacate his home before it was enveloped by flames.
    "I've been here nearly 15 years and this year we paid our house
    off, but she's gone, gone," he told ABC radio.
    Prime Minister John Howard on Wednesday said the deaths were "a
    terrible reminder of the ever-present threat of bushfires and their
    devastating effect on this country."
    A separate wildfire in Victoria burned through about 21,000
    acres of public and private properties, destroying a house, a car,
    a shed and about 2,000 head of sheep.
    The Eyre Peninsula blaze is the worst wildfire to hit Australia
    since the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983. That fire killed 75 people
    in South Australia and neighboring Victoria state.

    APTV 01-12-05 2200EST
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    • #32
      Uruguay wildfire forces tourists to flee
      MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Reuters) - A wildfire that has
      been burning for two days has forced thousands of vacationers
      out of Uruguay's Santa Teresa National Park and nearby tourist
      attractions, officials said Wednesday.
      The fire has partially destroyed the park, on the eastern
      coast of Uruguay, and was threatening the popular fishing
      village of Punta del Diablo, 190 miles east of
      Montevideo.
      "The fire has returned (to Punta del Diablo), it has
      changed direction but it is being fought back," Jose Maria
      Rivero, director of the National Emergency System, told
      Reuters.
      So far, 10,000 people have been forced to leave the area.
      Uruguay's beaches and nearby woodlands are very popular
      with Latin American tourists, particularly Argentines.
      Another fire that was creeping toward the beach resort of
      La Coronilla, further east, was stopped just miles from town.
      La Coronilla is 25 miles from the border with Brazil.
      Argentina has offered assistance in fighting the blaze and
      Brazilian firefighters were already helping.
      Four men have been arrested in connection with the blazes,
      fire chief Hugo Romeo told a local newspaper Wednesday.
      REUTERS
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      • #33
        By JOSE P. MONEGRO
        Associated Press Writer
        SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - The Dominican Republic
        may ask Puerto Rico to help fight a forest fire that's been raging
        in the Caribbean nation's central mountain range for nearly two
        weeks, officials said Monday.
        Clouds at high elevation and smoke from the fire has hindered
        firefighting efforts and made it impossible to estimate how much
        land is burning, said Milton Tejada, a spokesman for the
        environment secretary.
        "We have more than 700 men working in the area, but conditions
        are favorable for the fire," Tejada said. "If necessary, we would
        ask Puerto Rico to use a plane and a helicopter" to dump retardant
        on the blaze.
        Dominican authorities were investigating the cause of the fire,
        which began in the lower part of Duarte Mountain in the Jose del
        Carmen Ariza National Park, said Danneris Santana, sub-secretary of
        environment.
        Santana said vegetation in the area was dry because of little
        rain in the past few months.
        The National Meteorology Center said Monday no rain was expected
        over the next three days.
        Set at 3,175 meters (10,416 feet) above sea level, the popular
        hiking area around Duarte Mountain has been closed since last
        weekend because of the blaze.
        The central mountain range covers approximately 758 square
        kilometers (293 square miles) and comprises a handful of cities
        including Santiago, the country's second largest with 1 million
        people.
        Though the fire is over 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from
        Santiago, authorities said smoke had reached the city. Authorities
        said the blaze has yet to come close to any houses or structures.
        (jm-pp/fg)

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        • #34
          SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - About 700 firefighters
          and soldiers dug fire lines Tuesday as they battled a raging forest
          fire in the Caribbean nation's touristy central mountain range.
          Clouds and thick smoke prevented military helicopters from
          dropping water or retardant on the blaze, said Col. Francisco
          Fernandez, spokesman for the Dominican armed forces.
          The Dominican Republic has asked Puerto Rico to lend a special
          plane to drop retardant during fly overs, Fernandez said.
          Poor visibility has made it impossible to estimate how much land
          was burning or investigate the cause of the fire, authorities said.
          A dry spell over the past few months has withered vegetation and
          it was likely to continue through April, said Jose Maria Duquela,
          director of the National Meteorology Office.
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          • #35
            Update March 29th

            By PETER PRENGAMAN
            Associated Press Writer
            SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - Hundreds of
            firefighters dug trenches around the perimeter of the highest peak
            in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, trying to contain a forest
            fire that broke out nearly three weeks ago on its drought-stricken
            slopes, an official said.
            The fire has consumed at least 63 square kilometers (24 square
            miles) of forest, but the devastation might turn out to be more
            extensive once a thorough survey of the area can be done, said
            Environment Secretary Max Puig, giving the government's first
            damage estimates.
            Clouds at the high elevation and smoke from the fire have
            hindered firefighting efforts since the fire began March 11 in the
            lower part of Duarte Mountain in the Jose del Carmen Ariza National
            Park, some 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital Santo
            Domingo.
            The popular hiking area around the 3,175-meter (10,416-foot)
            Duarte Mountain has been closed since then. Puig said authorities
            were still investigating what caused the fire.
            About 700 firefighters and soldiers were close to containing the
            blaze by digging trenches around its perimeter, while two
            Venezuelan helicopters dropped retardant on hot spots. Authorities
            expect the fire to burn itself out within a few days unless new
            focal points pop up outside the trenches, Puig said.
            The worst drought in five years has withered vegetation and made
            forests in the Caribbean nation particularly flammable, said Miguel
            Campusano, forecast director for the National Weather Office.
            Campusano said rainfall between January and April was normally
            low, but this year it had been almost nonexistent. Campusano said
            in the central mountain range only 2.7 millimeters (0.1 inches) of
            rain fell in February, far below the average 116 millimeters (4.6
            inches) for that month.
            Campusano attributed the drought to the El Nino weather pattern,
            which he said was causing warmer-than-normal sea surface
            temperatures that reduced storm conditions and thus overall
            precipitation.
            The drought has also affected other Caribbean countries.
            Little rain has fallen in western Puerto Rico since November.
            In nearly a month, some 250 acres (100 hectares) of forest have
            been consumed in three spots in the State Forest of Maricao, in
            west central Puerto Rico, said fire department chief German Ocasio.
            Some small farmhouses have been burned, but no injuries or deaths
            have been reported.
            Although the fires have been contained, they will probably not
            be completely extinguished until expected April rains.
            For the past month, many bushfires have broken out in St.
            Elizabeth parish, a farming region in southern Jamaica. Several
            farms have been burned, but no injuries or deaths have been
            reported.
            (pp-mn-dk)
            ---
            Associated Press Writer Howard Campbell contributed to this
            report from Jamaica.

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            • #36
              MEXICO CITY (AP) - Authorities in Guadalajara declared a smog
              alert Tuesday, closing schools after forest fires raging nearby
              blanketed much of Mexico's second-largest city with a pall of thick
              gray smog.
              Hundreds of fire fighters and volunteers were battling more than
              a dozen separate blazes in forests outside the city, 280 miles (450
              kilometers) west of the nation's capital.
              But the worst smoke came from two large fires, one sparked by a
              campfire, Monday afternoon in the Bosque de la Primavera reserve.
              The blazes destroyed hundreds of acres of woodlands, raising the
              level of suspended particles in the air to unhealthy levels,
              authorities said.
              The education secretary for Jalisco state, which includes
              Guadalajara, ordered all municipal schools closed and the city's
              main universities also shut their doors to protect students,
              faculty members and staff from unhealthy air.
              Officials from the state health secretary issued a
              recommendation that residents stay in doors and said they had taken
              extra precautions to treat asthma patients who could be especially
              affected.
              Mexico has seen more fires so far in 2005 than in any of the
              preceding four years, and still must suffer through five to six
              more weeks of dry, hot weather before seasonal rains set in, said
              Environment Secretary Alberto Cardenas.
              Forest fires were also burning in Puebla and Oaxaca states and
              in the southern state of Chiapas, where blazes devoured hundreds of
              federally protected acres in the Lacandon jungle.
              Cardenas said abundant rains in recent years had fed the growth
              of forests, increasing the potential for fires.

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              • #37
                ZAPOPAN, Mexico (AP) - Efforts to control dwindling wildfires in
                western Mexico claimed a life on Saturday as a helicopter crashed
                outside Guadalajara, killing the pilot, authorities reported.
                No other people were on board the privately owned helicopter
                when it plunging into a river near Zapopan, about 290 miles (470
                kilometers) west of Mexico City, said Julio Quinones, a spokesman
                for the Zapopan police department.
                The helicopter had been helping federal authorities monitor the
                smoldering aftermath of several forest fires in the Bosque de la
                Primavera reserve.
                The fires had sent a pall of smoke over Guadalajara, Mexico's
                second-largest city, where a health alert was issued and schools
                were closed as a result of poor air quality. Schools reopened on
                Thursday.
                Skies were calm on Saturday, and the cause of the crash was not
                immediately known, police said.
                Mexico has seen more fires so far in 2005 than in any of the
                preceding four years and still must suffer through several weeks of
                dry, hot weather before seasonal rains arrive.

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                • #38
                  Fires turn deady

                  MEXICO CITY (AP) - Forest fires raging in a rural corner of
                  Mexico's most-populous state Wednesday killed four adults and two
                  children who had volunteered to help combat the flames, federal
                  authorities said.
                  Environment Secretary Alberto Cardenas issued an urgent call for
                  soldiers to join 100 federal, state and local officials, as well as
                  dozens of volunteers and firefighters outside the city of
                  Tejupilco, in Mexico state, which borders Mexico City.
                  Authorities were also using a helicopter to battle the blaze,
                  which was burning about 80 miles (125 kilometers) southwest of the
                  nation's capital, according to a statement released by Cardenas'
                  office.
                  The fire began Tuesday morning and has continued to grow,
                  causing evacuations and seriously injuring one person in addition
                  to the volunteers whose lives it claimed, the statement said.
                  Those killed were residents who joined firefighters after the
                  blaze threatened the area, the statement said. Killed around 1 p.m.
                  were David Jaramillo, Francisco Benitez, Fernando Albiter, Esteban
                  Jaramillo, Pedro Barrueta and Carlos Barrueta Sanchez, though the
                  circumstances surrounding their deaths were not clear.
                  The name of the volunteer who was gravely injured could not be
                  confirmed, the statement said.
                  Forest fires have menaced much of Mexico recently, especially in
                  areas where rains have been slow to come during the early weeks of
                  the country's wet season.
                  Last week, a thick gray pall of smoke generated by more than a
                  dozen forest fires burning outside Guadalajara, Mexico's
                  second-largest city, forced officials to call a smog emergency and
                  close schools. Fires have also claimed thousands of acres of
                  woodlands in the central state of Puebla as well as Chiapas,
                  Mexico's southernmost state.

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                  • #39
                    FEATURE-Park at world's southern tip recovers from Chile fire
                    By Katie Burford
                    TORRES DEL PAINE, Chile (Reuters) - It took a month
                    and 800 firefighters to put out an immense wildfire earlier
                    this year in remote southern Chile's Torres del Paine national
                    park, world renowned for its awe-inspiring granite spires and
                    glaciers.
                    Now, near the southern tip of the world where the growing
                    season is compressed into a few months, authorities have begun
                    the long process of helping nature heal from the park's worst
                    fire in decades, started when a Czech tourist's camp burner
                    blew over.
                    Tourism officials, meanwhile, are assuring nervous tour
                    operators from France to Japan that Chile's most famous park is
                    still a rugged backpackers' paradise. Tourism pumps an
                    estimated $75 million a year into Chile's extreme south.
                    "Something that man caused, man can also fix," said Marco
                    Cordero, regional director for Conaf, Chile's forest service.
                    Immediate concerns are that erosion could alter the park's
                    brilliant turquoise lakes, invasive plant species could gain a
                    foothold or endangered wildlife could be forced outside the
                    park's protective boundaries to forage for food.
                    As a token of goodwill, the Czech government contributed
                    about $185,500 toward the recovery, which is expected to cost
                    $7 million.
                    Preserving this pristine hinterland in the heart of
                    Patagonia, a loosely defined region that encompasses
                    southernmost Chile and Argentina, is about more than
                    aesthetics.
                    "Tourism for the Magellan region is one of the main sources
                    of revenue," said Miguel Angel, regional director for Chile's
                    Sernatur tourism department.
                    Torres del Paine is Chilean Patagonia's headline
                    attraction, but the Straits of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego, Cape
                    Horn and Antarctica are other popular destinations.
                    Most that journey to this far-flung, glacier-encrusted
                    region expect to encounter its legendary wind. It forces trees
                    to grow sideways and has merited a mention by every prominent
                    chronicler to pass through in the last 500 years.
                    The wind frustrated the efforts of firefighters gathered
                    from all over Chile and Argentina to put down the fast-moving
                    blaze, which seemed to send fingers out in all directions.
                    Authorities point out that only a fraction of the park
                    burned -- 45 square miles of 935 square miles
                    total -- and this was more than a mile
                    from the park's signature spires, which jut from plains in
                    a cluster like a prairie Atlantis.
                    Still the damage is startling. Travelers on the park's
                    easternmost road drop over a hill to find themselves suddenly
                    surrounded by a barren moonscape. In sections, charred ground
                    stretches for as far as the eye can see.
                    The fire, which began Feb. 17, hit at the peak of the
                    park's four-month tourist season, which starts in December, the
                    middle of the southern-hemisphere summer.
                    Tourism officials say they have not seen a unusual dip in
                    visitors, which number about 100,000 a year from 80 different
                    countries. As a precaution, they put the word out at travel
                    fairs around the globe that Torres del Paine is still very much
                    worth the trip.

                    ABOUNDS WITH WILDLIFE
                    Native people believed the peaks, which soar as high as
                    10,000 feet, were warriors turned to stone by an evil
                    spirit. Starting in the early 1900s the surrounding land,
                    cursed by many a settler as worthless, was used for ranching,
                    until 1959 when it was declared a national park. Tourism
                    started to hit its stride in the '90s.
                    Outside Patagonia's protected areas large sheep farms still
                    operate and overgrazing of the pampa is a major concern of
                    environmental groups. The wildfire that devastated Torres del
                    Paine also burned 15 square miles of adjacent
                    private ranchland.
                    The park abounds with wildlife -- ostrich-like nandu,
                    Andean condors, llama-like guanaco, Austral parakeets,
                    flamingos, puma and the endangered huemul, a member of the deer
                    family. The only known fatalities of the fire were a handful of
                    guanaco.
                    The first stage of the 12-year fire recovery plan involves
                    filling in trenches, dug as a barriers to contain the fire;
                    building dikes to prevent erosion; and collecting seeds to use
                    for reseeding next season. The government is compensating
                    ranchers whose land is being grazed by displaced wildlife.

                    SYMBOLIC PARK
                    Although Czech tourist Jiri Smitak has said he deeply
                    regrets the fire, many Chileans were incensed that he only
                    received a $200 fine. Lawmakers called for tougher penalties
                    and the State Defense Council filed a suit against Smitak
                    seeking damages.
                    National pride in the park runs deep but since it is not
                    connected to the rest of Chile by road, the park is expensive
                    to reach and only about a third of Torres del Paine visitors
                    are Chilean. Most come from the United States or European
                    countries. Visitors fly in to an airport about a four-hour
                    drive south of the park.
                    Cordero said various organizations from around the globe
                    have offered to help with funds or expertise.
                    "For the whole world, Torres del Paine park is something of
                    an emblem," he said.
                    REUTERS

                    Reut08:00 05-17-05
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                    • #40
                      CHISASIBI, Quebec, Canada

                      CHISASIBI, Que. (CP) - Residents of this northern Cree community
                      were told they could return home Sunday night after firefighters
                      brought a nearby forest fire under control.
                      "The fire is practically extinguished," said Helene Philippe,
                      a spokeswoman for the federal department of Indian and Northern
                      Affairs. "There are only two little hot spots remaining on which
                      local firefighters are working. It is not a threat to the
                      community."
                      The fire started at about 11 a.m. Saturday. It took about 130
                      firefighters and two water bombers to bring the fire under control,
                      civil protection officials said.
                      The fire had come to within a kilometre of the town of 3,500
                      earlier on Sunday, prompting authorities to order 600 residents to
                      leave as a precaution.
                      Eighty people were flown to Val D'or,about 630 kilometres south
                      of the community and 150 were taken to Radisson, 120 kilometres
                      east of the town, said Claude Gagne, Radisson's emergency services
                      co-ordinator. The remaining 370 went to other aboriginal
                      communities, he said.
                      The fire caused no injuries or material damage. Rather,
                      evacuations were made as a precaution.
                      "The people who were evacuated from Chisasibi are people who
                      can't be (exposed) to smoke. We're talking about people with
                      pulmonary problems or health problems," he said.
                      Those people are now returning home after Chief Abraham Rupert
                      lifted the local state of emergency, Philippe said.
                      "It's good news. It seems everything is back in order," she
                      said.
                      Civil protection officials say fires are common in the James Bay
                      area and spread easily due to dry spots, caribou moss and conifer
                      leaves.
                      The cause of the fire was being investigated.
                      (CP-Montreal Gazette)


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                      • #41
                        Officials evacuate six campgrounds in southern France as forest
                        fire spreads
                        TOULON, France (AP) - Authorities evacuated six campgrounds in
                        southern France as a precaution Tuesday as firefighters battled a
                        large forest fire that officials said appeared to have been the
                        work of arsonists.
                        The blaze destroyed 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) as of late
                        afternoon Tuesday, regional officials said. No injuries were
                        reported, and officials said no homes or businesses were
                        immediately threatened.
                        About 300 firefighters were using conventional equipment and
                        water-dropping helicopters in an attempt to contain the fire near
                        Puget-sur-Argens, authorities said.
                        Officials braced for possible power outages as the fire
                        approached a high-voltage line supplying electricity to much of the
                        region.

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                        • #42
                          Firefighters control forest blaze near Athens
                          ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A forest fire on the outskirts of the
                          Greek capital was brought under control Monday after a two-hour
                          operation involving 100 firefighters.
                          The blaze started around midday (0900GMT) in the Dardiza area of
                          Mount Parnitha, northern Athens, and burnt more than three hectares
                          (7 acres) of forest and scrub. Four water-dropping aircraft and two
                          helicopters took part in the effort.
                          No injuries were reported. State-controlled NET Television said
                          that around 30 houses were briefly threatened. The fire's cause was
                          not immediately known.

                          (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

                          APTV 07-18-05 1037EDT
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                          • #43
                            Drought sweeps all of Portugal, bites economy
                            LISBON, July 20 (Reuters) - Portugal, gripped by its worst
                            drought in at least 60 years, sent hundreds of firefighters to
                            battle blazes across the country on Wednesday and warned of
                            economic fallout to the parched agricultural sector.
                            Secretary of state for the environment, Humberto Rosa, said
                            severe and extreme drought extended to the whole country,
                            costing the agricultural sector the equivalent of nearly 1.5
                            percent of gross domestic product.
                            With 26,000 people were reportedly receiving water from
                            trucks as of July 15, Rosa also outlined plans to teach the rest
                            of the country water conservation.
                            "Every Portuguese person will receive a post-card at home,
                            advising them of the risks of drought and the necessity to
                            conserve (water)," Rosa said in an interview with newspaper
                            Jornal de Negocios.
                            The drought is Portugal's worst since at least 1945, when 86
                            percent of the territory was in severe or extreme drought.
                            Spain is also suffering its worst drought since records
                            began in the 1940s, and in western France, water levels are at
                            their lowest since the major drought of 1976.
                            Parched conditions now stretch from north Africa to the
                            French capital, and 11 firefighters died in Spain on Sunday
                            fighting a forest fire, possibly caused by a barbeque.
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                            • #44
                              July 21st

                              LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Firefighters battling a major two-day
                              blaze in a forest in central Portugal were unable to call on air
                              support Thursday due to thick black smoke, officials said.
                              Around 300 firefighters were being helped by army troops using
                              bulldozers to cut firebreaks in parched woodland near Seia, about
                              250 kilometers (150 miles) north of Lisbon.
                              Officials said high winds and the region's hilly terrain
                              hindered efforts to halt the fire's advance.
                              The Civil Protection Service said five forest fires were out of
                              control early Thursday and more than half the country was on
                              maximum alert as inland temperatures were forecast to exceed 40
                              degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for a second consecutive day.
                              The Civil Protection Service said it had deployed more than
                              1,700 firefighters nationwide.
                              Portugal is enduring its worst drought on record.
                              Emergency services found the charred body of an elderly man near
                              his forest home Wednesday. He apparently was caught by flames as he
                              tried to flee.
                              Some remote houses burned down and several remote villages were
                              evacuated as a precaution.
                              Numerous vineyards, orchards and eucalyptus plantations were
                              blackened by the fires, authorities said.

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                              • #45
                                July 28th morning update

                                ATHENS, July 28 (Reuters) - A forest fire near Athens'
                                seaside suburbs burnt down homes and factories and threatened
                                more damage as strong winds drove it towards heavily inhabited
                                coastal areas on Thursday.
                                Officials said authorities in eastern Athens evacuated
                                houses, summer camps and orphanages as the blaze approached.
                                Arsonists are believed to have started the fire, which swept
                                through a thick pine forest near the eastern suburb of Rafina
                                and gathered speed, fanned by strong northern winds. A second
                                fire started nearby hours later.
                                "It certainly seems to be arson," a fire brigade spokesman
                                told Reuters.
                                Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose private
                                residence is near the site of the fire, met fire officials and
                                inspected operations in the area.
                                Hundreds of residents armed with waterhoses and buckets
                                tried desperately to save their homes as 15-metre (45-feet)
                                flames raced toward them.
                                "This is arson. They are destroying everything I built my
                                whole life," a resident of Rafina told reporters in tears. "I
                                now see my house burning down.
                                Deputy fire brigade chief Andreas Kois said hundreds of
                                firefighters rushed to the scene but strong winds hindered them.
                                "Everything is working against us. The wind is very strong
                                and the fire is spreading too fast for us to fight it," Kois
                                told reporters.
                                He could not say whether the fire hurt anyone or how many
                                homes it damaged.
                                More than 250 firefighters and soldiers, 50 fire trucks,
                                eight airplanes and six helicopters have fought the blaze since
                                Thursday morning.
                                More troops from around the country were called in to help.
                                The wealthy area, about 30 km (18.6 miles) east of the city
                                centre, is scattered with small, lush suburbs and thousands of
                                holiday homes on or close to the sea.
                                Athens International airport, which lies some 10 km away,
                                shut its western runway and redirected all flights to its
                                eastern runway to help air firefighting operations.
                                (additional reporting by Tatiana Frangou)
                                Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
                                Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

                                *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
                                On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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