Forest fires ease to reveal extent of ruin

Residents and authorities in Halkidiki and the Peloponnese yesterday began assessing the damage caused by forest fires in their areas which are gradually being brought under control by firefighters. The fire service in northern Greece said that it had curbed the progress of the blaze in the Cassandra prong of the Halkidiki peninsula. Firefighters contained the fire near the area of Cassandrino. However, they said that it was still burning in a number of mountainous areas that the fire service could not reach. Similarly, firefighters in Laconia, southern Greece, had managed to limit the blaze that broke out there on Tuesday. However, they were also called to another fire that started in a forested area near the town of Megalopolis yesterday afternoon and was being fanned by strong winds. The fire service said that it was hoping that strong winds would not blow overnight in either the Peloponnese or Halkidiki to rekindle the fires. Meanwhile, authorities attempted to count the cost of the blazes. The fire in Laconia is now estimated to have burned twice the number of olive trees that officials originally thought. The blaze appeared to have destroyed 200,000 trees in the area, which relies heavily on olive production. The brushfire is thought to have scorched 10,000 hectares of land in total. In Cassandra, locals insisted that the fire had burned some 5,000 hectares of pine forest, even though the general secretary of central Macedonia, Giorgos Tsiotras, said that the fire did not claim more than 3,000 hectares. It is still not clear how many houses were destroyed. Residents and farmers began assessing the damage to their homes and crops so they could submit compensation claims to the local prefecture. A three-member team from the prefecture will tour the scorched areas to confirm the scale of the destruction before asking the Interior Ministry to cover the costs of compensation.