Fire chief dies in large blaze

Firemen from Gythio, in the southern Peloponnese, on Monday recovered the charred remains of the 49-year-old head of the regional fire service from the site of a blaze on forest land in the area of Vathy.

According to firemen in the first engine dispatched to the scene, Constantinos Kastris disembarked from the vehicle and ordered the driver to return with backup as the blaze was larger than anticipated.

When the firemen returned, they found the fire chief?s charred corpse. Kastris is the first firefighter to have died in the line of duty since huge fires ravaged central Greece and the Peloponnese in the summer of 2007, killing 84 people including nine firefighters.

Monday?s blaze in Vathy – which spread quickly, fanned by strong winds – had been extinguished by late afternoon.

The fire was one of several to break out in different parts of the country, with the largest blazes reported in Nafpaktos, near Patra, in Agrinio and Mesolonghi, in western Greece, in Parga, on the northwestern coast, and on the Aegean island of Myconos.