efe-epaAthens

Thick clouds of smoke overhead added a note of menace to blisteringly-hot temperatures at the Acropolis above the capital of Greece, which was experiencing an intense heatwave Monday, as seen in images captured by efe-epa journalists.

The smoke was drifting from wildfires on mountain slopes around Gerania, near Kineta, a beach resort town some 54 kilometers (35 miles) west of Athens, and the 40 degree Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) temperatures forced authorities to close the Acropolis, one of Greece's most popular tourist attractions, due to the heat buildup in its stones.

The culture authorities in Athens decided to close the renowned archaeological site at 2 pm on Monday because of concerns over the temperature on the bare rocks.

According to the latest reports, strong winds were due to push the flames toward an inhabited area known as Maroula, north of Kineta.

Firefighting operations were underway with some 70 firefighters using 30 fire engines, assisted by five water-bombing aircraft and two helicopters, authorities said.

The smoke rising from the fires reached many areas of the Attica region and presented an additional challenge for the aircraft battling the blazes, particularly the helicopters, authorities said.

A dry winter has created a high likelihood of wildfires in Greece this year.