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Wildfires threat to temples.

A RAGING wildfire raced down a mountain slope in Greece toward the town of Marathon last night, nearing two ancient temples while despairing residents pleaded for firefighters and equipment that were nowhere to be seen.

Tens of thousands of residents of Athens' northern suburbs evacuated their homes, fleeing in cars or on foot. Several houses were destroyed as the fire advanced across an area more than 30 miles wide.

More than 90 wildfires have ignited since Saturday across Greece, and six major fires were burning late last night. The Athens fire began on Mount Penteli, which divides Athens from the Marathon plain, and has spread down both sides of the mountain.

Driven by gale-force winds, the blaze grew fastest near Marathon, from which the modern long-distance foot race takes its name.

"If they do not come right now, the fire will be uncontrollable," Vassilis Tzilalis, a resident of the seaside resort of Nea Makri, near Marathon, told TV channel Mega.

"The Museum of Marathon is being encircled by fire and flames are closing in on the archaeological site of Rhamnus, the home to two 2,500-year-old temples," he said.

The mayor of Marathon said he had been begging the government to send over planes and helicopters "There are only two fire engines here; three houses are already on fire and we are just watching helplessly," mayor Spyros Zagaris told Greek TV.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2009
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