ATHENS, Greece — A huge fire burning on the Greek island of Rhodes for the fifth day has forced authorities to order the evacuation of four places, including two seaside resorts.
In previous days, the forest fire was confined to the mountainous center of the island, but aided by winds, very high temperatures and dry conditions, it spread towards the coast on the central-eastern side of the island on Saturday. Local media reported that the fires had reached three hotels, whose clients had already been evacuated.
Fire Service spokesman Yannis Artopios said on Saturday afternoon that residents in four towns received SMS messages to evacuate: in two towns they were told to move to the northeast and in two others to the southwest.
Artopios said more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire trucks were operating on the ground, assisted by three planes and five helicopters. The force includes 31 firefighters from Slovakia, with five fire trucks.
The main front of the fire is a triangle, with two of its points near the sea and one in the mountains. On maps, each side of the triangle appears to be more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) long.
Three Coast Guard boats, plus one from the Army, were evacuating people from two beaches. Twenty private ships attended and the Greek navy sent a ship.
The fire in Rhodes was only one, the most dangerous, of various assets throughout Greece, said Artopios.
The fire northwest of Athens and one near Sparta were declining, he said, although conditions, including Expected temperatures to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and low humidity (less than 15%), means the danger is not over and more wildfires could break out.
The Fire Service has designated almost the entire eastern part of the mainland, plus the islands of Evia and Rhodes, as well as large swaths of the south-west, as Category 5, the highest for the risk of fire outbreaks on Sunday. A good deal more of the country has been designated Category 4, very high risk.
There will be a brief respite in the heat wave on Monday, but it will resume on Tuesday and could last at least until Friday, forecasters warned.
Firefighting forces from eight European Union countries are operating or will arrive soon, Artopios said. Israel, Jordan and Turkey have also sent reinforcements, mostly air teams.