Greece: Wildfire blackens gate of ancient fortress city

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s culture minister says the archaeological site of Mycenae has not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening the entrance to the ancient citadel.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday at the edge of one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortress city flourished centuries before the major Acropolis monuments were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Flames blackened the 3,250-year-old stone-built Lion Gate, the entrance to the ancient city.

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday.

“The Fire Service acted swiftly ... and prevention measures worked: dry vegetation had all been cleared away. That’s what saved the monuments.”

A spokesman for Greece's main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site.

The party said it would carry out a separate inspection later Monday.

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but Mendoni said it will be reopened soon.

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