Long Islanders recall deadly wildfires in Greece

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ISLAND PARK -

Some Long Islanders told News 12 about their experiences with the deadly wildfires that ravaged Athens, Greece earlier this week.

The fire broke out near Rafina, northeast of Athens. Fanned by gale-force winds, it raced through seaside resorts of full-time homes and vacation residences popular with Athenians and tourists.

Officials said Thursday that satellite image analysis and ground inspections provided "serious indications" the fire that broke out in multiple places within a short time frame Monday and killed at least 82 people was set deliberately.

“One side of the sky was blue, and the other side of the sky was just this orangey smoke,” said Aristea Lucas, during a Skype interview with News 12. “It was a very eerie feeling to see.”

The Port Jeff woman and her two daughters are visiting their home in Greece, which is about 40 minutes from where the fires broke out.

“People were in the water anywhere from 3-5 hours, swimming where they couldn't reach anymore, because the smoke was so bad. The fire was so hot…they had to keep going under the water to cool off,” she said.

Georgia Papathanasiou, another Long Islander who just got home from Greece Wednesday, says she knows people who had to flee the flames into the sea.

“My cousin's in-laws are from that area. That's the way they saved themselves. They saved themselves by going into the water,” said Papathanasiou.

Papathanasiou says their house was destroyed. Now, she is organizing with her church in Island Park to bring needed supplies to those suffering in Greece.

Panaghia Greek Orthodox Church has collected over $600 worth of nonperishable food and first aid supplies.

The church is accepting food donations and first aid donations until 1 p.m. Friday. Organizers say anything people are willing to donate will help.

AP Wire Services contributed to this report

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