Firefighter dies fighting blaze in Greek air base

June 20, 2012 - 12:18 PM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek firefighter died Wednesday while helping to battle a large wildfire burning inside an air force base just west of Athens, authorities say.

A fire department statement said the 28-year-old felt unwell and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Greek air force spokesman Constantinos Grapsas said the blaze is not endangering installations at the Elefsina base — primarily used by fire-fighting and transport planes.

Grapsas said 40 fire engines, seven water-dropping aircraft, one helicopter and 160 fire fighters are battling the blaze.

Meanwhile, two firefighters were hospitalized after being injured while battling a separate fire in Salamis, an island off the southern port of Piraeus. The fire threatened homes, but no damage was reported.

Authorities said one firefighter suffered burns, while the other sustained injuries as a result of a fall.

Fires often rage through Greece during summer months, and recent days have seen more than 30 blazes across the country.

One major blaze south of Athens on Saturday burned some 2,000 hectares (5,500 acres) of brush land and forest, completely destroying 15 houses and partially damaged more than 100 others.

Three firefighters were injured battling the fires.

In 2007, more than 60 people were killed when forest fires scorched the country's south.