Gov’t to draw on Ileia fire fund

A government-managed fund set up to provide compensation to fire victims in the Peloponnese two years ago will be used to help pay for damage caused by the fires in the northeast of Athens in the last few days. According to goverment sources, some 60 million euros are left in the fund set up after massive fires swept through Ileia and other parts of the Peloponnese, killing around 70 people and destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of land. A Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held today is expected to approve the decision to use the fund, established through donations, for the purposes of cleaning up after the fire, setting up anti-flood projects and compensating those that lost their homes in the blaze. Of the 205 million euros originally gathered by the fund in 2007, some 74.7 million euros have gone toward building 1,363 new houses in the Peloponnese while an additional 70 million euros went toward infrastructure projects in the area. The average cost of rebuilding a home is estimated at 750 euros per square meter. Government officials said yesterday that the number of homes destroyed by the current blazes that have scorched forestland northeast of Athens is 150. Sources later clarified that the total number of dwellings that were completely destroyed up until late yesterday was less than 50. As of today, those whose homes were damaged can apply for assistance to their local municipality and request an assessment to be made by government officials, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Prefecture of Eastern Attica. The Economy and Finance Ministry is believed to be working on a plan to help businesses hurt by the fires, such as providing more time to meet financial commitments to the state. Additionally, inspectors from the Hellenic Agricultural Insurance Organization – known as ELGA – have started to visit the fire-stricken regions in order to record the damage as many of the areas hit were home to stockbreeders and crop farmers. Meanwhile, insurer AIG Greece announced yesterday it has set up a 24-hour help line (210.127.721) to provide assistance to its customers affected by the fires. The company said in a statement it has also simplified procedures for customers seeking compensation and has staff members working around the clock in the department which handles compensation payments. PPC: Attica power supply not at risk Public Power Corporation (PPC) said yesterday that the power supply to Attica is not threatened by forest fires that raged through areas northeast of Athens over the last few days. A total of 70 crews are currently on standby with 230 technicians to repair damage to the power network and restore electricity supplies to fire-stricken areas that suffered blackouts, PPC said in a statement, adding that more staff will be allocated to repair work as the fires are gradually put out. There have been no problems with the company’s high-voltage transmission lines that carry considerable amounts of electricity, but some medium-voltage transmission grids were shut down for precautionary reasons, causing blackouts in some areas, the power utility added. Commenting on the cost of the damage to Public Power Corporation’s network, a spokesman told Reuters earlier that «the blaze has damaged some poles but they will be replaced at a negligible cost for the company.»