NEWS

Frequency of fires raises suspicion of arson

Timing and location of recent blazes fueling authorities’ speculation they weren’t accidental

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The case for arson is gaining ground within the government and local authorities after the latest outbreaks of wildfires in Vilia in western Attica and Karystos in southern Evia, which, however, were contained by firefighters on Monday.

This suspicion stems from the fact that the fire in Vilia broke out just seven days after the previous one (which burned 9,400 hectares) in an area where the pine forest had remained untouched by last week’s flames.

In Karystos, two different fires broke out, the first at 3.20 a.m. on Sunday in the area of ​​Metochi and the second at 1.30 a.m. on Monday, near Marmari.

Overall, the recent proliferation of fires across the country, with blazes recorded almost hourly at the height of the crisis, has reinforced the view that malice was involved.

The deputy regional governor of Attica in charge of civil protection, Vassilis Kokkalis, said as much in comments to Kathimerini, attributing Monday’s fire in Vilia to arsonists, noting that it started simultaneously at two points at a distance of 200-300 meters from each other. He added that in the settlement of Profitis Ilia at least five houses were severely damaged. 

Echoing the same sentiments, the deputy mayor of Vilia, Panagiotis Koloventzos, told Kathimerini that “someone is intent on setting fire to Vilia.”

“The incident requires a serious investigation,” he added. 

However, other information sources made it clear that the new fire in Vilia broke out on the side of the road and expressed doubts whether an arsonist would choose to act in broad daylight, in the middle of a street while numerous firefighters and police officers were patrolling the area.

Nonetheless, an official of the Citizens’ Protection Ministry blamed the recent fires on arsonists, while some police officials, however, noted they had no evidence to confirm that the barrage of fires was due to an organized arson plot. 

Also speaking to Kathimerini, the mayor of Karystos, Lefteris Raviolos, expressed concern about the fact that within 24 hours, two menacing fires broke out during the night, while strong winds were blowing in the area.

However, an experienced member of the fire brigade told Kathimerini that it is very common in the area of ​​Karystos to have fires on days with strong winds due to the presence of high-voltage power cables.