Wildfire rages through forest close to Greek capital for third day

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Huge fires raged for a third day through forests less than thirty miles from the Greek capital.

About 350 firefighters and soldiers in Greece battled the huge blaze as pilots dropped water on the flames.

Emergency crews are struggling to contain a large wildfire raging for three days through pine forests north of Athens.

Nobody has been injured by the blaze between Varnavas and Kalamos, 28 miles from Athens, but at least 20 homes have been damaged.

Huge blaze: Locals watch the rising flames as a wildfire burns near the village of Kapandriti, north of Athens, Greece (REUTERS)

Officials said residential areas were not in direct danger.

Nine water-dropping planes and helicopters were leading efforts to stop the fire, which moved deep into some of the few remaining pristine forests near Athens.

A smoky haze from the blaze that started on Sunday hung over much of Athens, while ash drifted throughout the capital.

Emergency reponse: An aircraft drops water on the huge fires (AFP/Getty Images)

Dramatic images showed crews fighting through thick plumes of smoke to battle huge flames.

On Zakynthos, an island popular with foreign tourists, a dozen fires burned for a fifth day. 

Thick smoke: Firefighters try to extinguish a fire as a wildfire burns near the village of Kapandr (REUTERS)

Authorities declared a state of emergency on Monday as a government minister said there was no doubt the fires had been set deliberately.

“It’s arson according to an organised plan,” Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, the member of parliament for Zakynthos, told state TV.

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