Response to Attica fire deemed rapid

Investigation into causes of Penteli blaze under way, while PM does not rule out arson

Response to Attica fire deemed rapid

The response to the wildfire that broke out in Penteli north of Athens was almost immediate, Kathimerini has learned.

The blaze started at 5.19 p.m. on Tuesday at the Vayati location and within 25 minutes the Fire Service has mobilized 15 water-dumping aircraft, according to data seen by Kathimerini. 

The large wildfire tore across Mount Penteli for two days until it was largely contained on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday that nothing is being ruled out regarding the cause of the blaze.

“We cannot rule anything out at the moment, but we’ll have more information when the Fire Service’s investigation is completed. Certainly for Penteli, the case of arson is not being ruled out,” he told journalists.

“I believe that all the authorities did their best, having a very rapid and timely presence, with a great mobilization of the state apparatus, and above all with much better coordination compared to what we have seen in the past,” he added.

The arson scenario was further reinforced on Thursday by a decision of Athens Appeals Prosecutor Maria Gane to order a judicial investigation into the causes of the blaze.

At the same time, however, high-ranking fire officers and officials at the Civil Protection Ministry clarified that so far no specific findings have emerged that could safely lead to the conclusion that the fire was set deliberately.

They also said there were no electricity poles in the area where the fire started and that the temperature on Tuesday afternoon did not justify a theory of spontaneous combustion. 

The government on Thursday announced relief measures for those impacted by the fire. These include a six-month suspension of tax obligations, compensation for home damages, and housing assistance to individuals and legal entities for the restoration of buildings and their facilities within demarcated areas.

Other help includes cash for housing expenses, subsidies for fire-damaged businesses, a three-year exemption from the property tax (ENFIA), a six-month suspension of enforceable decisions/rulings concerning one’s damaged property, rent subsidy, accommodation of fire-stricken people in Attica hotels, subsidies for farmers and emergency subsidies to local authorities.

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