Residents of ancient Olympia and visitors to the area in southwestern Greece were evacuated on Wednesday afternoon, as a wildfire was raging some two kilometers from the eponymous site, along with nearly a dozen other communities.
A fire protection system was activated at the archaeological site, whereby water towers around the site spray adjoining areas. A similar wildfire in 2007 scorched the actual site and outdoor facilities. Authorities claimed seven fires simultaneously erupted around ancient Olympia, which is located in Ilia prefecture, in the northwest Peloponnese.
Further to the northeast, on the northwest coast of the large island of Evia, which itself straddles the eastern seaboard of mainland Greece, coast guard patrol vessels, private craft and even a ferry boat evacuated people from in and around the coastal resorts of Limni and Rovies, as a massive wildfire raged in the hills and mountain above the site.
The specific wildfire extended at its maximum over a 20-kilometer front.
Dozens of wildfires, given at 118 by civil defense officials, were reported across Greece on Wednesday, coming a day after a destructive wildfire hit the Varibobi forest and township, due north of Athens, and amid a punishing heatwave that has seen temperatures in the east Mediterranean country soar to as high as 46C.
In a related development, the country's Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO) on Wednesday again denied reports that the wildfire north of Athens was started by an explosion in a high-voltage power transformer.
According to official sources, such blast would have knocked out power in many districts, and would not have been repaired by the following morning.
They also stressed that an inspection of the network on Wednesday morning had shown that damage to the network was slight and of minor importance. An investigation into the cause of the fire is being carried out by the fire brigade, the announcement added.
While the wildfires ravaged thousands of hectares of pine forests, brush land and crops, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported.