NEWS

Chios fire burning for a fourth day, mastic trees damaged

Wildfires were burning on Chios for a fourth day on Tuesday as authorities attempt to assess the damage done to the island?s mastic production.

?Effectively, half the island has been burned,? the island?s deputy prefect, Constantinos Ganiaris, told Skai TV.

Firefighters were battling three fronts one Wednesday. One was close to Yiannaki forest.

Officials from the Agricultural Insurance Organization (OLGA) have arrived on the island to inspect the damage done to the island?s rare mastic trees.

The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) estimates that the fire has consumed a total of 12,740 hectares so far, dealing a massive blow not just to the island?s agricultural economy, but also to the world supply of Chios mastic, a resin used in a variety of food and cosmetic products which has protected designation of origin status.

Yiannis Madalas, head of the company behind Mediterra SA, a Chios Mastic Growers Association company, estimated Monday that the areas hit by the wildfire account for around 53 percent of the island?s total yield.

?Some 3,000 families live off the gum trees, which are the main source of income in the south of Chios, while many more supplement their incomes with mastic production,? Madalas told Kathimerini.

Madalas said that it takes an average of five to seven years before the Pistacia lentiscus begins producing the golden resin.

Chios produces between 20-25 percent of the world?s mastic crop, mainly around the village of Pyrgi, which was badly hit by the blaze.

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