Wildfire raging near Athens on election day

ATHENS - Hundreds of firefighters battled a rural wildfire near Athens as the recession-hit nation held a general election Sunday that will determine its economic future.

Some 260 firefighters backed by 115 engines and three aircraft fought to contain the wildfire that broke out on several fronts on Saturday, burning down many summer homes and injuring three firefighters.

Greece was expecting water bomber reinforcements from Italy and had also sent requests to France and Croatia, a fire department source said.

One fire in the densely populated Athens suburb of Pallini on Saturday damaged a factory and a school before firefighters brought it under control.

The injuries occurred in the worst blaze, between the towns of Keratea and Palaia Fokaia some 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Athens.

The front was moving towards the coastal city of Lavrio on Sunday.

Officials said the fire had been lit by a spark from workers who had been welding, despite public warnings against such activities.

Four people were to be taken to a prosecutor on Sunday to be charged.

The fires, the first of Greece's wildfire season, were expected to delay the opening of ballots in the Keratea and Lavrio areas but voting will be held as planned, authorities said.

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