In the wake of last week’s huge fire on the island of Kythira, off the Peloponnese, which razed some 2,300 hectares of farmland, Kathimerini has learned that the island’s mayor, Efstratios Harhalakis, had written to three different fire service chiefs over the past two-and-a-half years, warning about the acute shortages in the island’s firefighting equipment and staff.
Kythira currently has just six full-time firefighters, half the minimum to ensure an adequate response to forest blazes on the 278-square kilometer island.
In a related development, the fire service and Greek Police were both on standby Wednesday following Tuesday night’s fire in the Veikou Woods (Alsos Veikou), northeast of central Athens, apparently the work of an arsonist. Municipal authorities on Wednesday oversaw an operation to clear the area of garbage while the head of the fire service, Vassilis Kapelios, ordered inspections in all wooded areas of Athens and other cities in a bid to prevent similar fires.
Strong winds on Wednesday fanned the flames of a forest fire in the area of Zeli in the prefecture of Fthiotida, central Greece, hampering the efforts of firefighters to contain the blaze and keep it away from residential areas. The fire had been only partially doused by nightfall.
Meanwhile a 24-year-old man was remanded in custody on Wednesday after authorities linked him to 16 fires on forest- and farmland in the areas of Penteli, Anthousa and Geraka between July 14 and August 1.