NEWS

Probe into Evia blaze focuses on two suspects, possible short circuit

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Fire

Greek authorities pressed on on Friday with an investigation into the causes of a large wildfire that ravaged large swaths of forestland on the island of Evia for three days earlier this week, questioning two suspects in a possible arson scenario, while also exploring the possibility that the blaze was not intentional. 

Officers of the Greek fire department’s special arson section (DAEE) have gained access to the telephone records of a 33-year-old man believed to be a possible arson suspect, Kathimerini understands.

Investigators aim to establish whether the suspect’s alibi – that he was not in the area at the time of the fire – holds up.

Authorities’ suspicions were raised as the man had been arrested in August last year in connection with a total of nine cases of arson around the villages of Stavros and Kontodespoti, not far from the spot that this year’s blaze broke out on Tuesday.

He was reportedly released from pretrial custody earlier this month.

After failing to locate him following this week’s blaze, DAEE officers questioned relatives of the suspect, who claimed that he was on holiday.

They subsequently gained access to his mobile phone records and on Friday were seeking to determine whether his phone’s signal was picked up by antennae in the area.

According to fire service officers, certain burned objects removed from the scene could be the remains of arson mechanisms, but without the corroborating testimonies of witnesses, the items are inadequate as evidence.

Authorities are also reportedly investigating a second arson suspect, a resident who sustained burns from the fire.

However, the fire service has not ruled out the possibility that the blaze was started by a short circuit in water pumps in the area.

Firefighters who had been operating in the area since the blaze broke out on Tuesday brought the fire under control on Friday with local sources saying all active fronts had been doused.

However, a contingent remained on standby to minimize the possibility of any flare-ups.

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