ALEXANDROUPOLIS, Greece — Hundreds of firefighters struggled on Tuesday to control major wildfires burning out of control for days in northeastern Greece and on Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, with strong winds fanning the flames and prompting evacuations of villages and a city hospital in Greece.
Hot, dry and windy conditions have seen dozens of wildfires break out across Greece, with the most severe entering its fourth day and encroaching on the northeastern port city of Alexandroupolis. On Monday, two people died and two firefighters were injured in separate fires in northern and central Greece.
The fire risk level for several regions, including the wider Athens area, was listed as “extreme” for the second day Tuesday. Authorities have banned public access to mountains and forests in those regions until at least Wednesday and ordered military patrols.
In Spain’s Canary Islands, firefighters battled to control a wildfire burning for a week on the popular tourist destination of Tenerife. More than 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and nearly 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of pine forest and scrubland have been burned. Large parts of Spain were under alert for wildfire risk due to a heatwave that sent temperatures spiking over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in many areas.
In northeastern Greece, a massive wall of flames raced through forests toward Alexandroupolis overnight, prompting authorities to evacuate another eight villages and the city’s hospital. The flames turned the sky over the city and across the region red, hiding the sun as choking smoke and swirling flecks of ash filled the air.
About 65 of the more than 100 patients in the hospital were transported to a ferry boat docked in the city’s port, while others were taken to other hospitals in northern Greece. The ferry set sail later on Tuesday to transport the patients west to the port town of Kavala, where they were to be transferred to another hospital.
Deputy Health Minister Dimitris Vartzopoulos, speaking on Greece’s Skai television, said smoke and ash in the air around the Alexandrouplolis hospital was the main reason behind the decision to evacuate the facility.
“We evacuated within four hours,” Vartzopoulos said.