Wildfire in Greece blackens gate of ancient fortified city

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Monuments at the archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening the entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece’s culture minister said Monday.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday after it reached one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 75 miles southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortified city flourished centuries before the major Acropolis monuments were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

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Smoke from the flames blackened the 3,250-year-old stone-built Lion Gate, the entrance to the ancient city.

Smoke raises during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

Smoke raises during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.
(Vangelis Bougiotis/InTime News via AP)

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday, adding that none of the site’s main monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage.

The fire that broke out at the Mycenae, one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece, has not caused any damage to antiquities at first inspection, according the Culture Ministry.

The fire that broke out at the Mycenae, one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece, has not caused any damage to antiquities at first inspection, according the Culture Ministry.
(Vangelis Bougiotis/InTime News via AP))

“The Fire Service acted swiftly … and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away,” Mendoni said. “That’s what saved the monuments.”

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A spokesman for Greece’s main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site.

Smoke raises during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

Smoke raises during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.
(Vangelis Bougiotis/InTime News via AP)

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The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection Monday, and called on the minister to issue a public apology for downplaying the damage.

A helicopter operates during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

A helicopter operates during a wildfire over the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 90 miles south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.
(Vangelis Bougiotis/InTime News via AP)

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will be reopened Tuesday.

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