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As Fires Endanger the ‘Lungs’ of Athens, Greek Anger Rises

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Even as the Greek authorities battled scores of wildfires, stretching from north to south on the mainland, the fires encroaching on a treasured national park north of Athens on Thursday provoked special anger.

Mount Parnitha, a protected wildlife area widely known as the “lungs” of Athens, is normally a respite for city dwellers, especially as the heat of Greek summers has tipped to dangerous extremes.

But on Thursday, with the air acrid with the smell of burned wood, residents and conservationists alike lamented the potential loss of one of the few green spaces left near the capital. They accused the authorities of failing to protect a precious forestland that is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, including red deer and wolves.

“No other European capital has been blessed with such a hot spot of biodiversity literally at its doorstep,” said Demetre Karavellas, director of World Wildlife Fund Greece, adding that the extent of the damage was still unclear as fires continued to rage. “It’s a crying shame.”

Officials said they were doing all they could…

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