Hot and dry weather stoked another round of fires burning across southern Europe today as firefighters in Greece, Portugal and the French island of Corsica struggled to corral the flames.

Greek authorities voiced suspicions that at least some of the several dozen fires that broke out on both the mainland and the island of Zakynthos over the weekend were started deliberately.

Over 4000 firefighters were battling more than 250 bushfires in Portugal, which requested assistance from other European Union nations.

On Corsica, fires that have raged since Friday forced the evacuation of 1000 people, authorities said.


The latest blaze in Greece started today in a pine forest and had damaged as many as 20 houses in a town north of the capital. Kalamos, a town some 44km north of Athens, is a favorite holiday spot for Athenians.

Authorities said they have shut down a large portion of the local road network as the blaze expanded in several directions, including toward Athens. They also evacuated two children's campgrounds.

Portugal Civil Protection Agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said the country set an annual single-day record for new fires yesterday, when 268 separate fires started. That surpassed the previous year-to-date high mark of 220 fires reached on Saturday.

While the weather isn't helping, nature was responsible for igniting a minority of the blazes, Gaspar said.

"We know that more than 90 per cent of the fires have a human cause, whether intentional of from negligence. Both are crimes," she said.

Authorities believe a series of fires raging on several fronts on the western Greek island of Zakynthos were started deliberately.

The country's fire service said there were "well-founded suspicions of foul play" after five fires broke out yesterday and today, followed by another three later.

Greek Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, who is also the local member of parliament, said of the multiple blazes while visiting the island: "This is planned."