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Firefighters struggle to battle blaze near Greek capital
ATHENS, Greece (AP) ' A major fire south of the Greek capital burning for the second day Sunday was abating slightly, the fire department said, but gale-force winds were rekindling the flames.
Local officials said several homes had been burned, while three firefighters were injured in the blaze Saturday.
More than 250 firefighters and soldiers using more than 60 vehicles were battling the flames south of Athens, along with four water-dropping planes and a helicopter, the fire department said. Another 45 firefighters and 15 vehicles were being sent from other areas.
Greece appealed to the European Union for help. Italy was sending another two water-dropping planes Sunday morning, Citizens' Protection Minister Eleftherios Economou said. France and Croatia were also looking into the request.
Four people were to appear in court later Sunday after being arrested for allegedly accidentally causing the blaze while carrying out welding work at a construction site.
By Saturday night, the fire was raging on a 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) front to the west and south of the town of Keratea, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Athens.
Fire department spokesman Nikolas Tsongas said on Greek radio that the blaze was abating on Sunday, but the strong winds were rekindling the flames in some areas.
Power was cut to the area to facilitate water-dropping planes, authorities said.
Economou said more than 30 fires had broken out across the country on Saturday, but most were brought under control. The risk of new fires was considered high, after several days of hot temperatures followed by strong winds across most of Greece.
The blazes were being fought as Greeks voted in a national election that could determine whether their indebted nation stays in the euro.
Forest and brush fires are common in the hot, dry summer months in Greece. In the deadliest outbreak in decades, more than 60 people were killed when forest fires raged across southern Greece in 2007.