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Firefighters get handle on Greece blaze

ATHENS, Greece – The last major fire in southern Greece has been brought under control after flaring up again over the weekend, fire officials said Sunday.

Officials also said two other big fires were completely extinguished, leaving only minor fires smoldering in the area.

The blazes had been largely contained for several days, but firefighters struggled to prevent them from rekindling and causing more damage. Two villages were evacuated and 23 people were rescued by helicopter Saturday after one fire restarted in Greece’s southern Peloponnese region.

Nine firefighting planes and two helicopters helped contain that blaze on Mount Parnon on Sunday. Two other fires outside the towns of Megalopoli and Karytaina were out.

Meanwhile, rain was reported across much of northern Greece, with flooding on the Halkidiki peninsula, but it had not reached any areas affected by fires.

Fires have destroyed an estimated 469,000 acres of mostly forest and farmland over the past 10 days, prompting a massive relief effort but also criticism of Greece’s government for allegedly responding to the crisis slowly and failing to safely evacuate villages before they were burned.

The death toll rose to 65 Sunday after a man seriously burned in a fire on the island of Evia died in a hospital.

Also Sunday, funeral services were held for a mother and her four children who were killed outside the southern village of Artemida while trying to flee the fires by car on Aug. 24. Four other people also died in the same convoy of cars when it became trapped in flames.

Authorities have not released any damage assessment, but an estimated 4,000 people lost their homes, according to independent estimates based on claims for assistance by individuals and local authorities.