A wildfire burns coastal homes on the Greek island of Lesbos, an evacuated resort town


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ATHENS, July 23 (Reuters) – A wildfire that erupted in the mountainous forests of the Greek island of Lesvos near Turkey on Saturday has burned down properties in the resort town of Vatera as others planes were joining the firefighting efforts.

Authorities previously ordered the evacuation of the Aegean resort as the wildfire approached dangerously close, fanned by strong winds.

Thick smoke billowed from the area. A fleeing resident told state television ERT that her house was on fire.

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“We are fighting to save the houses,” Taxiarchis Verros, mayor of western Lesvos, told the television station.

Vatera, an 8 km (five miles) long sandy beach in the southern part of Lesbos, is a popular tourist spot. Lesvos was at the forefront of Europe’s refugee crisis six years ago.

Homes were set on fire and a firefighter was injured as the blaze engulfed Vatera, with flames damaging a beach bar and scorching umbrellas.

Greece is suffering a second consecutive summer of wildfires this year.

A wildfire in the mountains near Athens earlier this week damaged homes and forced hundreds to flee, with authorities calling this summer one of the toughest in the Mediterranean. Read more

Last year, wildfires tore through around 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bush across Greece in the country’s worst heat wave in 30 years.

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Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, additional reporting by Elias Marcou in Lesbos; Editing by Mike Harrison

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