NEWS

Discrepancies complicate probe into Attica blazes

TAGS: Fires

As a probe into last month’s deadly fires on the outskirts of Attica gathers pace, discrepancies have emerged between official evidence held by the fire service and the testimonies of key witnesses, Kathimerini has learned. 

According to well-informed sources, the times that key fire service officials claimed to have responded to the blazes do not correspond with the information in the fire service’s archives.

For instance, a high-ranking fire service official who had been on duty in eastern Attica on the night of July 23 was dispatched to the fire at 5.30 p.m., according to the service’s archives. In his testimony to prosecutors, however, he claimed to have responded to the blaze 40 minutes earlier, just a minute after it broke out.

Another fire service officer appears to have been briefed about the fire at the moment that he was involved in evacuating an orphanage.

It is hoped that a closer examination of the fire service’s electronic archive, which monitors the movements of all fire engines in real time, will yield some clarity, as will access to witnesses’ cell phone records, which judicial authorities are seeking.

Prosecutors are expected in the coming days to pore over the depositions of survivors and relatives of the victims for more insights.

Meanwhile, as the death toll from the blazes rose to 92, sources indicated that prosecutors are planning to bring criminal charges against a Pendeli resident who is believed to have started the fire that spread to Mati by burning wood.

Around 50 families who were left homeless by the fires are currently living in two temporary venues – an air force facility in Zoumberi and a camp in Nea Makri.

According to Rafina Mayor Vangelis Bournous, some of the families have seen their homes entirely destroyed, others were left without electricity while others are “too shocked to return.” 

During a meeting with delegations of residents from Neos Voutzas and Mati on Monday night, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pledged that the damage to their homes would be fully repaired, Kathimerini understands.

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