NEWS

Fire strikes Attica again

The Fire Service said last night that it had managed to control a wildfire that broke out in the northern Athens suburb of Stamata yesterday before it reached homes and business premises. For yet another weekend this summer, firefighters battled several blazes around Greece but the fire at Stamata caused particular concern because of its close proximity to houses. More than 40 firefighters, 15 fire engines and four water-dropping airplanes were deployed in the operation to put out the blaze, which was fanned by strong winds that spread ash and smoke over other areas in the north of the city. According to initial estimates, the fire burned some 30 hectares of pine-covered land. Some residents reported hearing three explosions before the fires started, prompting speculation that arsonists were responsible for the blaze. Firefighters also brought under control a fire on the island of Salamina, near Piraeus, yesterday. An incendiary device was found in the Kaki Vigla area where the blaze began and authorities said they had detained a man on suspicion of arson. Among the other fires reported yesterday were blazes on Mount Parnassos, central Greece, in Evros and Florina, northeastern Greece and near Ioannina, northwestern Greece. The overstretched Fire Service was boosted by the arrival yesterday of the first of several aircraft pledged by Russia to help in the firefighting effort. The Beriev BE 200 amphibious aircraft can carry up to 12 tons of water. Two Russian helicopters were also expected to arrive in Greece last night. Government ministers are expected today to visit the northern Peloponnese - one of the areas worst affected by wildfires - to begin assessing the damage caused to forests and properties in the area. Over the weekend, the government pledged 1.3 million euros to Achaia Prefecture and municipalities hit by the fires that ravaged more than 30,000 hectares. People whose homes were damaged by the blazes will receive an immediate payment of 3,000 euros, while those whose houses were completely destroyed will receive a third of the cost to rebuild the property as a direct grant and the remainder can be repaid as a 15-year interest-free loan.

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