Crews Battle Large Fire in Greece

Crews Battle Large Fire in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Firefighters battled a large forest fire in southern Greece with water-dropping planes and helicopters Friday, evacuating three villages and sending coast guard boats to rescue scores of people trapped on a beach.

Separately, a brush fire broke out on the outskirts of the Greek capital, burning across a hillside and blanketing parts of Athens in thick smoke Friday.

The blaze was moving fast, fanned by strong winds and devouring parts of a verdant hillside popular with day-trippers. Thirty firefighters with 10 vehicles and at least one helicopter were battling it, the fire department said.

The forest fire in the Lakonia area on the tip of Greece's southern Peloponnese was also being fanned by strong winds. A coast guard vessel and other nearby boats were heading to a bay where an estimated 100 people had sought refuge from the flames.

One of the seven firefighting planes battling the Lakonia blaze had to make an emergency landing but the two pilots were not hurt, the fire department said. Two helicopters, 120 firefighters, nearly 30 soldiers were fighting the fire.