NEWS

Probe suggests fires caused confusion

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Fires

A detailed report compiled by a retired fire service officer has pointed to a series of apparent mistakes and oversights by members of the Greek fire service, police and local authorities in the response to last month’s disastrous fires on the outskirts of Attica. 

The 70-page report was put together by Andrianos Gourbatsis and submitted on Monday to the lawyer Antonis Fousas, who is representing three people who lost loved ones in last month’s tragedy. It is expected to be sent next Monday to the prosecutors Ilias Zagoraios and Varvara Gnesouli who are handling an investigation into the blazes. 

Among the findings to have emerged from the parallel investigations of the prosecutors and the expert’s report is that the fire on Mount Pendeli on July 23 broke out at 4.35 p.m., 14 minutes before the first call to the fire service. The new time is an assessment drawn from a private security camera on a house in eastern Attica, sources have indicated. 

Other findings suggest there was confusion created by the proximity of the two fires to each other. For several minutes, sources said, it appeared that the smoke over Mount Pendeli could be coming from Kineta, western Attica, where the first major fire broke out on July 23. 

It also emerged that a high-ranking fire service officer who had been on duty in Kineta did not respond to an order to move to Mati, the eastern Attica settlement worst affected by the blaze. According to sources, the officer claimed the next day that the order to move to Mati came after the fire had wreaked its worst and had been aimed at making him a scapegoat for the tragedy. 

Another 10 relatives of victims, who claim their loved ones died after being directed by traffic police into the Mati blaze, are to sue the authorities in the coming days. 

Prosecutors handling the probe are expected to start bringing specific charges against suspects next month but the case is expected to stay in Greek courts for years.

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