Greek villages, monasteries evacuated as fire damages homes

LOUTRAKI, Greece — A large wildfire in Greece gutted and damaged dozens of homes and prompted evacuations Thursday as it tore through rugged forest terrain. No injuries were reported.

Fire department officials said 17 water-dropping planes and three helicopters were involved to try to contain the blaze about 70 kilometers (45 miles) west of Athens that started outside the resort town of Loutraki.

Smoke from the fire reached Athens, affecting visibility.

Overnight and early Thursday, authorities issued evacuation orders for 14 settlements, in areas with many vacation homes. Two Orthodox Christian monasteries and one convent were also evacuated.

The fire reached a nearby coastline and damaged several fishing boats. Fire department spokesman Lt. Col. Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis said more than 180 firefighters were deployed Thursday.

Wildfires are common during Greece’s hot summers.

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