ATHENS, Greece (AP) – A helicopter swooped into a village in southern Greece to rescue residents trapped by flames on Monday, one of dozens of fires that have torn through village and forest across the country, leaving blackened landscape in their wake.
The fires have killed 63 people over four days, destroying everything in their path. One broke out on the fringe of Athens Monday, but was quickly brought under control. Another scorched the woodland around the birthplace of the Olympics.
A woman found dead on Friday with her arms around the bodies of four children had fled her home, the only house left standing in the village, said a neighbor in the Peloponnese town of Artemida. The home’s white walls and red tile roof were unscathed.
“Nothing would have happened to them. The few that stayed didn’t get injured, but most people left to escape, everyone, and only two or three stayed behind,” said the neighbor, Vassiliki Tzevelekou.
A helicopter airlifted five people to safety on Monday from the village of Prasidaki in southern Greece, said fire department spokesman Yiannis Stamoulis. Another was sent to the village of Frixa.
Fueled by strong, hot winds and parched grass and trees, the fires have engulfed villages, forests and farmland.