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As winds drop, firefighters see gains against Greek wildfire

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A drop in high winds late Thursday helped firefighters gain ground on a large wildfire in southern Greece that raged for more than a day, forcing the evacuations of villages and summer camps.

Fire Service chief Stefanos Kolokouris said the blaze east of the town of Corinth was abating. “There is no active front right now,” he told state ERT TV.

Earlier, authorities evacuated one more village and a children's summer camp as a precaution, and 20 water-dropping planes and helicopters assisted more than 300 firefighters on the ground struggling to contain the blaze.

Evacuation orders were issued for a total seven villages and two camps since the wildfire started Wednesday at the seaside settlement of Kechries, more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Athens, and rapidly spread inland.

The aircraft withdrew after nightfall since they can't fly in the dark. Firefighters on foot strove to put out scattered small blazes before daybreak, when high winds forecast for Friday could once again whip them up into fast-moving fronts.

The fire burned farmland as well as pine and olive trees and gutted or seriously damaged around 10 homes, local officials said. One fireman was slightly injured.

The Fire Service said a total 72 forest fires broke out all over Greece since Wednesday evening, with most quickly extinguished..

Wildfires are common during Greece’s hot, arid summers. Two years ago, a fire ravaged the seaside resort of Mati, east of Athens, leaving 102 people dead. Massive blazes in 2007 killed about 80 people in southern and central Greece.

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