Wildfires Tearing through Greece are Threatening to Destroy Ancient Olympia – the Birthplace of the Olympic Games

Pictured: A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy, foreground, in ancient Olympia, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. Pictures showed firefighters battling the blaze as it raged across a hill near the world-famous archaeological site

Wildfires are threatening Greece‘s ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, some 6,000 miles away from Tokyo where they are currently being held.

Pictures showed firefighters battling the blaze as it raged across a hill near the world-famous archaeological site where – where the Olympics were held every four years from 776 B.C. for more than a millennium.

Around 100 firefighters were battling the blaze on Wednesday, aided by three helicopters and two planes, at the site that is found in Elis region, and some 115 miles west of Greece’s capital of Athens.

Olympia was ordered evacuated as a precaution, as were another seven nearby villages. The area was ravaged by major wildfires in 2007 that cost dozens of lives.

Meanwhile, at least 150 houses were destroyed by a violent blaze that surrounded a monastery and a dozen villages on the Greek island of Evia on Wednesday, just one of some 40 fires raging in the heatwave-hit country.

No deaths or severe injuries have been reported from any of the Greek wildfires.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni is due to go there to evaluate the risks to the ancient site, but Olympia mayor Giorgos Georgopoulos called for back-up on television. ‘We need more aerial support,’ he said.

The European Union’s crisis management commissioner said it would help, and Cyprus and Sweden were both sending two water planes to help battle the fires.

Earlier this year, the Olympic torch was lit in Olympia – as it is ahead of every Olympic games – before making a 12,000 mile journey through Japan.

On Evia , huge flames leapt up from the forest, visible from afar in what firefighters said was a difficult blaze to control on an island of rolling hills with little visibility.

Three monks from Saint David Monastery had refused to leave, firefighters said, adding that everyone else had been evacuated from the villages nearby.

‘The flames are 30 to 40 metres (100 to 130 feet) high and surrounding the monastery. We’re suffocating due to the smoke,’ one of the monks told the ANA news agency by phone.

Police told AFP they would force the monks to evacuate if their life was in danger.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Chris Jewers