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Tuesday, August 4, 1998 Published at 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK

World: Europe

Fire engulfs Greek village

Flames close in on a house in woodland north of Athens

Firefighters in Greece are struggling to hold back a fierce forest fire near Athens.

The blaze, which started on Sunday, engulfed the village of Anthoussa, 15 miles north east of the capital on Tuesday, destroying about 20 homes.

[ image: Flames burn trees around a caravan]
Flames burn trees around a caravan
A summer camp for disabled children, a hospital and a monastery were also evacuated.

Nobody has been injured but the number of families left homeless is rising.

"It's a total disaster. My home is ruined, my office is ruined, everything is gone," said one resident.

Flames have swept across thousands of acres of pinewood and 600 firefighters have been called.

[ image: Water is poured onto burning forest]
Water is poured onto burning forest
Seven planes dropping water and hundreds of soldiers and volunteers have also been helping in the massive effort to keep the fire away from more towns.

The blaze started in the middle of a forest at night and some officials have blamed arsonists.

On Monday night a state of emergency was called in Athens' northern suburbs after a cloud of smoke drifted across the city.

Some electricity supplies were cut off as a precaution.

It is the latest serious forest fire in Greece this summer. Last month three firefighters and a volunteer were killed.

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