Wildfires in New Mexico Biden declares disaster

Revelation 8:7 “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Biden declares disaster in New Mexico wildfire zone as thousands affected by evacuations
  • President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration that brings new financial resources to remote stretches of New Mexico devastated by fire since early April.
  • The president’s disaster declaration releases emergency funds to recovery efforts in three counties in northeastern New Mexico where fires still rage, as well as portions of southern New Mexico where wind-driven blazes killed two people and destroyed over 200 homes in mid-April.

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Wildfire spreads to 6,000 acres in Arizona

Revelation 8:7 “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Arizona wildfire spreads to more than 6,000 acres, prompting evacuations
  • A fast-moving wildfire in northern Arizona has grown to more than 6,000 acres, being fueled by significant winds and dry conditions.
  • Coconino County officials said that over 200 personnel were fighting the fire, but they have not been able to achieve any containment as of Tuesday evening.
  • The so-called Tunnel Fire was burning about 14 miles north of Flagstaff. County officials said nearly 800 households and over 1,000 animals were evacuated from the area that is home to more than 2,000 people

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3,000-acre Fire now burning in Tennessee

2 Timothy 3:1 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Tennessee wildfire now 3K acres and is only 5% contained, evacuations remain in place
  • A mandatory evacuation was issued in Tennessee as a more than 3,000-acre fire rages near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • “It was surreal,” resident Robert Goodhue told Knox News. “I could see the smoke coming off of Walden’s Creek back there, and I was like, ‘That’s coming from where I live.’”
  • The fire had grown to about 1,000 acres Wednesday evening and jumped to about 3,700 acres by Thursday, according to Lt. Gov. Rand McNally and state Sen. Art Swan.
  • High winds and dry conditions reportedly sparked the brush fire, Knox News reported.
  • More than 70 fire departments have been deployed to area.

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Fire prompts evacuation order in Laguna Beach

Important Takeaways:

  • Emerald Fire: Laguna Beach blaze prompts evacuations, highway shutdown in California
  • Evacuation orders currently issued for residents in city south of Los Angeles
  • “The Laguna Beach Police Department has issued an IMMEDIATE EVACUATION ORDER for Irvine Cove and Emerald Bay and an EVACUATION WARNING has been issued for all of North Laguna (all residents North of Broadway) in Laguna Beach due to a nearby brush fire,” the city of Laguna Beach
  • The cause of the fire is not immediately clear.

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Big Sur Fire shuts down Highway 1 forces evacuation

Luke 21:25,26 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfire Amid High Winds Prompts Evacuations, Shuts Down Highway 1 Near California’s Big Sur
  • Evacuations were ordered
  • The fire had burned about 2 square miles and was 5% contained
  • The blaze, dubbed the Colorado Fire, broke out despite heavy rainfall in recent months that has eased drought conditions.
  • Fire weather isn’t normally expected this time of year.
  • The fire jumped Highway 1 and the road was shut down in both directions from about 5 miles north of Big Sur to Rio Road in Carmel-By-The-Sea

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Factbox: Evacuations from Afghanistan by country

(Reuters) – The United States and allies are hurrying to evacuate as many people from Afghanistan as possible before an Aug. 31 deadline. The combined effort has evacuated more than 114,000 people since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban entered Kabul, the White House has said.

Here are some more details of the evacuation effort by country:

UNITED STATES

The U.S. military will continue evacuating people from Kabul airport until Aug. 31 if needed, but will prioritize the removal of U.S. troops and military equipment on the last couple of days, the Pentagon has said. On Monday, two U.S. officials said most U.S. diplomats had left the country.

Washington has evacuated 5,400 U.S. citizens since Aug. 14, according to the U.S. government.

There were still about 350 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan trying to leave the country, a State Department spokesman said.

BRITAIN

Britain’s last military flight left Kabul late on Saturday after evacuating more than 15,000 people in the two weeks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the defense ministry said.

CANADA

Canadian forces in Kabul ended evacuation efforts for their citizens and Afghans on Thursday, acting chief of the defense staff General Wayne Eyre said.

He said Canada had evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of about 3,700 Canadian and Afghan citizens.

GERMANY

Germany ended evacuation flights on Thursday. The German military has evacuated 5,347 people, including more than 4,100 Afghans.

Germany previously said it had identified 10,000 people who needed to be evacuated, including Afghan local staff, journalists and human rights activists. About 300 German citizens remain in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the foreign office in Berlin said on Friday.

FRANCE

The French Defense Ministry said on Friday it had finished its evacuation effort from Afghanistan. During the operation, nearly 3,000 people, including more than 2,600 Afghans, had been brought to France.

ITALY

Italy evacuated 5,011 people, including 4,890 Afghan nationals, among them 1,301 women and 1,453 children, a defense ministry statement said. The last evacuation flight left on Friday.

SWEDEN

Sweden has ended its evacuation mission in Kabul, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday. She said that a total of 1,100 people had been evacuated, including all locally employed embassy staff and their families.

BELGIUM

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Thursday Belgium had ended its evacuation operations. Just over 1,400 people were evacuated, with the last flight arriving in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad on Wednesday night, he said.

IRELAND

Ireland’s foreign ministry said that it had evacuated 36 Irish citizens after the completion of an emergency consular mission on Thursday.

It said it was now aware of approximately 60 Irish citizens and family members plus a further 15 Afghan citizens with Irish residency who are still in the country and have requested assistance, far more than they had initially estimated.

POLAND

Poland has evacuated about 900 people from Afghanistan, including about 300 women and 300 children, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.

HUNGARY

Hungary has ended evacuations in Afghanistan after airlifting 540 people, including Hungarian citizens and Afghans and their families who worked for Hungarian forces previously, Defense Minister Tibor Benko said on Thursday.

DENMARK

Denmark made its last evacuation flight out of Kabul on Wednesday with the remaining diplomatic staff and military personnel, according to its defense ministry.

Denmark has airlifted about 1,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, including diplomatic staff, their families, former interpreters, Danish citizens as well as people from allied countries, the ministry said.

UKRAINE

Ukraine has evacuated of all of its citizens who wanted to leave, the president’s chief of staff said on Saturday.

In all, it has flown out more than 600 people including foreign journalists, rights activists, women and children, Andriy Yermak said.

AUSTRIA

Austria says 109 people with Austrian citizenship, residency or work permits have been evacuated. The number of such people left is in the dozens, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference on Monday, adding that none are citizens as far as he was aware and new people are still getting in touch with the Austrian authorities daily.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland has wound up its evacuations from Afghanistan after repatriating 387 people over two weeks with the help of the German military, the foreign ministry said on Friday. There were still 11 Swiss nationals there — some working for international organizations — with whom the ministry remained in contact, it added in a statement.

THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch government said on Thursday it had evacuated 2,500 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 15, with about 1,600 of them brought to the Netherlands. The Dutch ambassador left on the final flight on Thursday. The Dutch have no diplomatic presence left in the country.

SPAIN

Spain has concluded its evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan, the government said.

Two military planes carrying the last 81 Spaniards out of Kabul arrived in Dubai early on Friday, a government statement said. The planes were also carrying four Portuguese soldiers and 83 Afghans who had worked with NATO countries.

Over the course of its rescue mission Spain evacuated 1,898 Afghans who had worked with Western countries, the United Nations or the European Union.

TURKEY

Turkey has evacuated all troops and civilians from Afghanistan aside from a small “technical group” left behind, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Turkey has evacuated at least 1,400 people from Afghanistan, including about 1,000 Turkish citizens, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week.

QATAR

Qatar said on Thursday it had helped evacuate more than 40,000 people to Doha and “evacuation efforts will continue in the coming days in consultation with international partners”.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The UAE said on Thursday it had helped evacuate 36,500 people to date, including 8,500 coming to the UAE via its national carriers or airports.

INDIA

India has airlifted 565 people from Afghanistan, most of them embassy personnel and citizens living there but also dozens of Afghans including Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, a government official said.

AUSTRALIA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that Australia had evacuated 4,100 people, including over 3,200 citizens and Afghans with Australian visas, over nine days, with the last planned flight leaving before the airport attack. The other evacuees were from coalition partners.

Morrison acknowledged some Australian visa holders remained in Afghanistan though he did not know exact numbers.

Australia is committed to bringing at least 3,000 more people out over coming months as part of a humanitarian program, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s Defense Force ran three flights out of Kabul, and the last planned flight had left before the attack, a government statement said.

No NZDF personnel were in Kabul at the time of the explosions and no New Zealand evacuees were left within Kabul airport. According to preliminary numbers, at least 276 New Zealand nationals and permanent residents, their families and other visa holders were evacuated, it said.

(Compiled by Reuters staff; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Alex Richardson, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Nick Macfie, Frances Kerry and Andrew Heavens)

Biden again defends U.S. pullout as world powers struggle with Afghanistan evacuations

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -World powers struggled on Friday to hasten evacuations from Afghanistan after reports of Taliban reprisals, as U.S. President Joe Biden insisted that the chaos following the American troop withdrawal had not diminished Washington’s international credibility.

Facing a torrent of criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban conquest of Afghanistan, Biden pledged that every American who wanted to would be evacuated, with about 13,000 flown out so far.

“I have seen no question of our credibility around the world from our allies,” Biden said in a speech from the White House.

“We are united with our closest partners to execute the mission at hand,” he said.

He said he could not promise what the final outcome would be in Afghanistan, where the United States has waged a 20-year war. But he promised to work with other countries to set “harsh conditions” for any cooperation or recognition of the Taliban, based on their human rights record.

“They’re looking to gain some legitimacy, they’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to retain that country,” he said. “And there’s going to be some harsh conditions, strong conditions we’re going to apply that will depend on … how well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens.”

Thousands of desperate Afghans clutching papers, children and some belongings thronged Kabul airport where gun-toting Taliban members urged those without travel documents to go home. In and around the airport, 12 people have been killed since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

Former government officials told harrowing tales of hiding from the group, as armed gunmen went from door to door. One family of 16 described running to the bathroom, lights off and children’s mouths covered, in fear for their lives with the militants at their door.

“Those who may be in danger have no clear way out,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said, urging neighboring countries to keep borders open.

The speed with which the Islamist group conquered Afghanistan, as foreign troops were withdrawing, surprised even their own leaders and left power vacuums.

Biden reiterated his contention that the U.S.-funded and -armed Afghan military had been expected to put up more of a fight.

“The overwhelming consensus was that they (the Afghan government forces) were not going to collapse … they were not going to put down their arms and take off,” Biden said.

The Taliban called for unity, asking imams at Friday prayers to persuade people not to leave. Residents in Kabul and four other cities said attendance was low, though prayers passed off without incident.

PROTESTS, ‘DESPITE A TALIBAN GUN’

A witness said several people were killed in the eastern city of Asadabad on Thursday when the Taliban fired on a protest. There were similar shows of defiance in two other eastern cities – Jalalabad and Khost – coinciding with celebrations of the nation’s 1919 independence from British control.

“The Taliban are facing the new reality of Afghanistan that Afghans are not the same Afghans of 20 years ago,” Barakat Rahmati, Afghanistan’s deputy ambassador to Qatar, told Reuters.

“Afghans, inclusive of men and women, held protests in Kabul despite a Taliban gun being pointed to them. They are holding protests against injustice. They are defending their identity and their flag.”

Washington has about 5,800 soldiers controlling the airport but acknowledged it does not have a grip on how many U.S. citizens were in Afghanistan.

In Britain, media said several senior officials were on holiday as the Afghan debacle erupted and that spy chiefs may face a grilling over intelligence failings. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab countered that the government had been working “tirelessly” on evacuations.

Germany said on Friday it was sending helicopters to help, amid reports that one of its citizens had been wounded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said other countries should not impose their own values. Beijing, too, said the world should support, not pressure, Afghanistan.

The Taliban ruled with an iron fist from 1996-2001, enforcing a harsh version of Islamic law, before being toppled by U.S.-led forces for sheltering al Qaeda militants behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

This time they are seeking to present a more moderate face.

The group said it wants peace, will not take revenge against enemies and will respect women rights within Islamic law.

There are immediate fears for Afghan economy, with foreign grants and aid set to slow, funds and assets trapped abroad and GDP predicted to slump. Hundreds of bureaucrats are unpaid for two months, a Taliban official said.

As Western leaders insisted the Taliban would be judged on actions not words, a Norwegian intelligence group said fighters had begun rounding up Afghans on a list .

Amnesty International said the Taliban, whose members are Sunni Muslims, killed nine men of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority ethnic group after taking Ghazni province last month.

(Reporting by Kabul, Washington and Reuters bureaux worldwide; Writing by Philippa Fletcher, Andrew Cawthorne and Nick Macfie; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Jon Boyle and Grant McCool)

Factbox-Evacuations from Afghanistan by country

(Reuters) – The United States and other Western powers are pressing on with the evacuation from Afghanistan of their nationals and some of their Afghan staff from Kabul airport, from where about 8,000 people have been flown out since Sunday, a Western security official said.

Thousands of people have desperately tried to get past Taliban roadblocks and U.S. troops to reach the airport. On Thursday the Taliban urged crowds of Afghans waiting outside it to return home, saying they did not want to hurt anyone, a day after firing at protesters and killing three.

EUROPEAN UNION

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday about 100 EU staff and 400 Afghans working with the EU and their families had been evacuated, but that 300 more Afghans were still trying to leave.

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain is unable to evacuate unaccompanied children from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday when asked about footage of a young child being handed over a wall to Western soldiers at Kabul airport.

Britain’s ambassador said his team had evacuated about 700 people on Tuesday and hoped to scale up the operation in coming days.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s foreign ministry said that since Sunday, approximately 1,200 people had left Kabul on flights for the United Kingdom.

UNITED STATES

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday that in the previous 24 hours U.S. military flights had evacuated approximately 2,000 more people.

The Pentagon is aiming to evacuate up to 22,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, their families and other at-risk people.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said there were about 4,500 U.S. military personnel in Kabul and there “have been no hostile interactions with the Taliban and our lines of communication with Taliban commanders remain open.”

AUSTRALIA

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, facing criticism over plans to evacuate citizens and some Afghans from Kabul, said on Thursday that bad weather in the coming days may delay rescue flights.

Australia has evacuated 26 people on one flight from Afghanistan, and Morrison said a further 76 were transported out of Kabul late on Thursday on a British plane.

GERMANY

Germany has evacuated some 500 people from Afghanistan since Sunday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday, adding that a fifth of the rescued people were Afghan nationals.

FRANCE

Twenty-five French nationals and 184 Afghans were evacuated from Afghanistan overnight, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.

SPAIN

Spain plans to airlift around 500 people including Spanish embassy staff and Afghans who worked with them and their families from Kabul, radio station Cadena SER said on Wednesday, citing sources close to the evacuation.

NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands said it got 35 of its citizens and 20 other foreign nationals out of Afghanistan on Wednesday, in a slow start to its evacuation operation amid chaos outside Kabul airport.

A flight, which included 16 Belgians, two Germans and two British passport holders landed in Amsterdam late on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. It added that brought the total number of Dutch nationals evacuated to 50.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday his country’s rescue operation to evacuate Czechs and Afghans who worked for the Czech embassy or as interpreters had ended. The country sent three flights to Kabul since Sunday, evacuating Czech citizens, as well as 170 Afghans.

DENMARK

Denmark’s prime minister said 84 people were evacuated on Wednesday from Afghanistan on a military plane.

HUNGARY

Hungary said on Wednesday it had organized the evacuation of a group of 26 Hungarian nationals working as contractors from Afghanistan and they would return to Hungary shortly on a flight organised by another country.

POLAND

Poland has evacuated around 50 people from Afghanistan, a deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday, a day after Poland said it had around 100 people on an evacuation list.

JAPAN

Japan is in close contact with a “small number” of its nationals still in Afghanistan, seeking to ensure their safety after Taliban militants took over Kabul, the government’s top spokesman said on Wednesday.

Japan has closed its embassy and evacuated the last 12 personnel, officials said this week.

CANADA

Canada plans to resume military flights to Afghanistan to evacuate civilians as the United States regains control of the Kabul airport, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) said late on Tuesday.

INDIA

An Indian air force plane evacuated over 170 people from Kabul on Tuesday, including India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, a government official said.

TURKEY

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey has evacuated 552 citizens from Afghanistan so far, including around 200 people flown from Kabul to Islamabad by a military plane on Wednesday. A Turkish Airlines plane was scheduled to bring them to Istanbul from Islamabad later the same day.

SWITZERLAND

The Swiss government said it was working to evacuate 230 local aid agency workers and their families from Afghanistan and bring them to Switzerland.

Around 40 local employees who worked for the Swiss Development Agency in Kabul and their families will be allowed into Switzerland in a humanitarian operation, the government said.

(Compiled by Catherine Evans and Hugh Lawson; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Deadly Jalalabad protests as Taliban consolidate Islamist rule

KABUL (Reuters) -At least three people were killed in anti-Taliban protests in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, witnesses said, as the militant group tried to set up a government and Western countries stepped up evacuations of diplomats and civilians.

More than a dozen people were injured after Taliban militants opened fire on protesters in the eastern city, two witnesses and a former police official told Reuters.

The Taliban have promised peace following their sweep into Kabul, saying they will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

The witnesses said the deaths took place when local residents tried to install Afghanistan’s national flag at a square in the city, some 150 km (90 miles) from the capital on the main road to Pakistan.

Taliban spokesmen were not immediately reachable for comment.

As the Taliban consolidated power, one of their leaders and co-founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, returned to Afghanistan for the first time in more than 10 years. A Taliban official said leaders would show themselves to the world, unlike in the past when they lived in secret.

“Slowly, gradually, the world will see all our leaders,” the senior Taliban official told Reuters. “There will be no shadow of secrecy.”

But thousands of Afghans, many of whom helped U.S.-led foreign forces over two decades, are desperate to leave the country.

More than 2,200 diplomats and civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan on military flights, a Western security official said on Wednesday.

“We are continuing at a very fast momentum, logistics show no glitches as of now,” the Western security official told Reuters.

The Taliban held their first news briefing since their return to Kabul on Tuesday, suggesting they would impose their laws more softly than during their harsh 1996-2001 rule.

“We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, told reporters.

Women would be allowed to work and study and “will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam”, he said.

During their rule, also guided by sharia religious law, women were prevented from working, girls were not allowed to go to school and women had to wear all-enveloping burqas to go out and then only when accompanied by a male relative.

‘TIME WILL TELL’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, echoing leaders of other Western countries, said the Taliban would be judged on their actions.

“We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes, and by its actions rather than by its words, on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access and the rights of girls to receive an education,” Johnson told parliament.

Britain has said it will welcome up to 5,000 Afghans during the first year of a new resettlement program that will prioritize women, girls and religious and other minorities.

Many Afghans are skeptical of the Taliban promises. Some said they could only wait and see.

“My family lived under the Taliban and maybe they really want to change or have changed but only time will tell and it’s going to become clear very soon,” said Ferishta Karimi, who runs a tailoring shop for women.

Mujahid said the Taliban would not seek retribution against former soldiers and government officials, and were granting an amnesty for ex-soldiers as well as contractors and translators who worked for international forces.

“Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors,” he said, adding that there was a “huge difference” between the Taliban now and 20 years ago.

The Taliban, who have fought to expel foreign forces since they were overthrown in 2001, seized Kabul on Sunday as U.S.-led Western forces withdrew under a deal that included a Taliban promise not to attack them as they leave.

U.S. forces running the airport had to stop flights on Monday after thousands of frightened Afghans swamped the airfield looking for a flight out. Flights resumed on Tuesday as the situation came under control.

Seventeen people were wounded on Wednesday in a stampede at a gate to the airport, a NATO security official said, adding that civilians seeking to leave had been told not to gather unless they had a passport and visa to travel. He said he had not heard any reports of violence by Taliban fighters at the airport.

Britain said it had managed to bring out about 1,000 people a day while Germany flew 130 people out. France said it had moved out 25 of its nationals and 184 Afghans, and Australia said 26 people had arrived on its first flight back from Kabul.

“Everyone wants out,” said one Afghan man who arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday with his wife and son on a flight via Tashkent. “We saved ourselves but we couldn’t rescue our families.”

(Reporting by Kabul newsroom; Writing by Robert Birsel and Jane Merriman; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Nick Macfie and Catherine Evans)

No end to Greek inferno as wildfires rage into the night

By George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris

ATHENS (Reuters) -Wildfires in Greece raged into the night burning more forest and homes in the northern outskirts of Athens and other parts of the country and forcing more evacuations as more international aid was on the way.

Authorities struggled with 154 wildfires across the country on Friday with the biggest fronts still burning in the north of Athens, the island of Evia and areas in the Peloponnese including Mani, Messinia and ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games.

“We are facing another, more difficult night,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters. “Wildfires of unprecedented intensity and spread, all our forces are fighting the battle day and night to save lives, together with volunteers.”

In the northern part of the island of Evia near Athens, the coast guard evacuated 650 people by boat as wildfires burned through forestland all the way to the shore for the fourth day.

As night approached, firefighters kept battling a continuous resurgence of blazes in the north of Athens which, fanned by strong winds, threatened to engulf the lake of Marathon and go up Mount Parnitha.

Greece, like much of the rest of Europe, has been grappling with extreme weather this summer. A week-long heatwave – its worst in 30 years – has sparked simultaneous wildfires in many parts of the country, burning homes and killing animals as flames tear through thousands of acres of land.

The fire, which broke out on Tuesday, burned around the main highway linking Athens to northern Greece and hundreds of firefighters with water-bombing aircraft battled to contain it.

A 38-year-old man was killed on Friday by a falling electricity pylon in a suburb north of Athens, the hospital where he was treated said.

In neighboring Turkey, authorities are battling the country’s worst-ever wildfires. Flames sweeping through its southwestern coastal regions forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. In Italy, hot winds fanned flames on the island of Sicily this week.

Police went door to door on Friday urging people to leave their homes north of Athens. Authorities ordered the evacuation of more suburbs in the north of Athens as the blaze advanced, burning more homes, cars and businesses.

“We are witnessing a catastrophe of historic proportions and climate change is the basic cause,” said Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s main political opposition. “We must support our frontline fighters and all who lost the efforts of a lifetime in a few minutes.”

FIERY DISASTER

Temperatures have been over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) all week and little let up came on Friday with high winds spreading the flames further.

The Athens power grid operator announced staggered power cuts in the surrounding region to ensure there were no major outages in mainland Greece.

In Gytheio in the southern Peloponnese, a coast guard vessel rescued 10 people from a beach as a blaze there flared. Locals made desperate calls for firefighting aircraft.

More foreign help was on the way with Switzerland sending three helicopters, joining other countries, including France, Cyprus, Israel, Sweden and the Ukraine who sent firefighters and water-bombing aircraft, the civil protection minister said.

The U.S. Navy was sending a P-8 aerial reconnaissance aircraft to support firefighting efforts.

In the Peloponnese, where firefighters saved Ancient Olympia from a fire this week, the flames left behind scorched earth and dead animals.

“A catastrophe,” said farmer Marinos Anastopoulos. “The fire came around midday with swirling winds and homes were burned, a lot of animals burned to death. Rabbits, sheep, dogs, everything.”

(Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, Lefteris Papadimas, Giorgos Moutafis and Rami Ayyub; Writing by George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Giles Elgood, William Maclean and Aurora Ellis)