Thasos fire still raging; five firemen injured

A handout picture provided by the Greek Prime Minister's Press Office Monday shows Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on a military helicopter, watching a forest fire that burns on the island of Thasos, in northern Greece.

TAGS: Fires

A wildfire that has engulfed parts of the Greek island of Thasos and left five firemen injured, raged for a third day Monday, burning through some 10,000 hectares of forest.

The fire, which is believed to have been sparked by lightning on Friday evening, has also destroyed at least eight homes and dozens of farm buildings, while hundreds of livestock died from smoke inhalation.

The island was declared in a state of emergency and schools remained closed Monday.

According to reports, some 250 firefighters, army conscripts and local volunteers were fighting the fire on three fronts Monday.

Authorities were, reportedly, awaiting images from a drone that flew over the island to assess the damage.

The areas most severely impacted by the fire were the communities of Rachoni, Prinos, Alykes, Limanaria and Mari. One village, Kazaviti, near Prinos was evacuated on Saturday, as well as two monasteries

“The damage is extensive,” said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who flew to the island in the northern Aegean yesterday on a military helicopter.

Tsipras said that the fact that there were no other fires in the country Monday was helping the effort to bring the blaze under control.

“Fortunately we were able to gather all the available resources on Thasos,” he said, adding that he hoped the fires would be contained by last night.

The premier promised local authorities that farmers, livestock breeders and beekeepers who suffered damages will receive compensation, adding that the Infrastructure Ministry will cover up to 80 percent of the finances needed to rebuild homes that went up in flames. The remaining 20 percent, he said, will be covered with a long-term loan.

Lightning, meanwhile, also sparked a blaze on nearby Mount Athos, home to a large Orthodox monastic community, early on Saturday, but the fire was quickly brought under control.